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ft 2T '39 

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Be filled with the Spirit; speaking to 
yourselves in psalms and hymns and 
spiritual songs, singing and making 
melody in your heart to the Lord." 

(PH. 5: 18, 19.) 


IN PREPARING this discussion of the Christian hymn, it has been 
my ambition, not to be pre-eminently scholarly, but rather to 
be pre-eminently helpful. The current treatment o this phase 
of church worship is quite sufficiently thorough in its literary 
analysis and historical research; there is nothing but praise for 
this aspect of the study of the hymn in the many excellent 
treatises in America as well as in England. 

The fathers of American hymnology, Professors Austin 
Phelps and Edwards A. Parks and Rev. Daniel L. Furber, set 
a good example to later hymnologists in their Hymns and 
Choirs in laying stress on the thought and sentiment of the 
hymns and in devoting nearly one-third of their study to "The 
Dignity and the Methods of Worship in Song," discussing 
choirs, congregational singing, organs, and many other prac 
tical phases in the use of hymns. They gave little considera 
tion to the historicity of individual hymns; that viewpoint had 
not risen above the horizon. 

Later works have given more attention to the historical 
background. The work of Dr. Louis F. Benson, the greatest 
hymnologist America has produced, cannot be too highly com 
mended for its scholarly thoroughness and indefatigable re 
search. His The English Hymn and The Hymnody of the 
Christian Church should be found in the library of every 
minister. Other valuable American treatises on hymns are 
Ninde's Story of the American Hymn, Oilman's Evolution of 
the English Hymn, Reeves' The Hymn as Literature, Marks' 
Rise and Growth of English Hymnody, and Tillett's Our 
Hymns and Their Authors, all of which are most helpful and 
illuminating discussions bearing on the literary and historical 

aspects of Christian hymns. On the other side of the sea are 
other most valuable studies of the hymn. Horder's The 
Hymn Lover is particularly fresh and inspiring. Others are 
instructive regarding the individual hymns, such as Josiah 
Miller's Singers and Songs of the Church, John Telford's The 
Methodist Hymn-Boo^ Illustrated and Evenings with the 
Sacred Poets, and W, T. Stead's Hymns That Have Helped. 
Supreme above them all is Julian's Dictionary of Hymnology, 
which is a stupendous work of vast comprehensiveness and 
indefatigable industry, the last word in the history and critical 
study of Christian hymns of all lands and all Christian ages. 

The justification of another survey of the field lies in the fact 
that all these admirable books confine themselves to the purely 
literary and historical data regarding each hymn, with side 
glances in only a few cases at the practical values involved. 
While the fundamental urge of expressing religious emotions 
back of Christian hymns is not denied or even deprecated, the 
emotional values are not developed or stressed. 

In order to assure this lacking element of practical helpful 
ness, this discussion includes four chapters on the purposeful 
use of hymns in the work of the Church. 

It is proper that I should recognize the sympathetic and 
cordial helpfulness in an advisory way of Professor Herman 
von Berge, my editorial associate in the musical work to which 
I have devoted the larger part of my life. His scholarship and 
wide practical experience, both as pastor and theological semi 
nary professor, have helped me solve some problems that 
rather daunted me. Acknowledgment is also due to my son, 
Rev. Edward H. Lorenz, and to Mrs. F. C. Goodlin, my pri 
vate secretary, in typing and proofreading my longhand 
manuscript. Last but not least, the co-operation of my brother, 
Dr. D. E. Lorenz, organizer of the church of the Good Shep 
herd in New York City and its pastor for thirty-four years, in 
the indexing and proofreading, calls for grateful recog 
nition. Only an experienced author can fully measure the 
value of such efficient helpers. E. S. L. 

Dayton Ohio. 




pulse to Sing Is Constitutional in Man. Biblical Authority for the 
Singing of Hymns. The Use o Hymns in the Development of 
the Christian Church. Cultural Value of Hymns. Spiritual 
Value of Hymns. The Value of Singing Hymns Too Often Over 
looked. The Need of Emphasis on Efficient Use of Hymns. 





I DEFINITION OF THE HYMN. Importance of Accurate Defini* 
tion. Inadequate Definition. Definition Must Be Based on Prac 
tical Considerations. Types of Hymns. Definition of the Con 
gregational Hymn, 

Emotional. It Must Have Poetical Form. It Must Be Poetic in 
Spirit. The Hymn Must Have Unity. The Poetical Element 
Is Contributory Only. 

GIOUS. Poems of Semi-religious Fancy Are No Hymns. Mere 
Moralizing Will Not Serve. Special Propaganda Is Not Admissi 
ble. Christian Hymns Should Be Genuinely Christocentric. 

the Scriptures. Use of Scriptural Forms Desirable. 

gregational Singing Is a Pronouncedly Christian Exercise. Meter 
Essential to Mass Singing. 


Evident. Hymns May Not Be Extremely Individualistic, Distract 
ing Figures and Forms of Expression. Verses Must Be Complete 
in Themselves. Musical Limitations. Outworn Hymns. Mis 
taken Objections to Some Hymns. 




II PURPOSE IN WRITING HYMNS. The Influence of Purpose. 
The Purpose Must Affect Only the Practical Aspects. 


Christians in Worship and Christian Activities. Hymns Concen 
trate Interest and Attention. Hymns Afford a Means of Ex 
pression for the Congregation. Hymns Provide Help and Com 
fort in Dark Hours. Hymns Afford Clear Expression of Chris 
tian Truth. Hymns Give Opportunity for Active Participation by 
All. Hymns Provide Variety. Hymns Create a Religious Atmos 
phere. Hymns in the Home. Hymns in Personal Work. 

HYMNS. Hymns Are Evidence of the Effect of the Bible. 
Hymns and Psalms Affected the Life of Church. Hymns in 
Personal Christian Experience. Hymns as Stimulating the 
Spiritual Life of the Minister. Hymns Approved by Paul. 
Hymns in the Early Church. Hymns Prepared the Church for 
Periods of Marked Progress. 

difference. Indifference of the Congregation. 



a Transcript of Life. Its Wide Distribution. Its Acceptance 
Through Many Generations. Its Profound Influence. 

TER. Due to Narrow Definition of Literature. Due to Failure 
to Realize Limitations of Hymns. Some Critics and Their 

III THE WRITING OF HYMNS. The Handicap of Thought and 
Diction. The Handicap of Meter. 



ary Quality Not the Supreme Consideration. Literary Quality 
Should Be Subconscious. 



I THE CHANGES IN OUR HYMNS. Early Changes. The Abuse 
of the Editorial Revision. The Return to the Originals. 

The Rights of the Original Writer. The Limits of the Author's 

Writer's Vision. Biblical Precedent. 

IV ANALYSIS OF CHANGES MADE. The Omission of Verses. 
Reconstructing and Rewriting Faulty Hymns. Minor Felicitous 



I ITS RELATION TO GOD. Thanksgiving. Prayer for Future 
Blessing. " Adoration. The Hymn of Communion. 

II RELATION TO THE SINGER. The Hymn of Emotion. The 
Hymn of Inspiration. The Hymn of Personal Experience. The 
Hymn of Meditation. The Hymn of Exhortation. The Didactic 
Hymn. The Doctrinal Hymn. The Homiletical Hymn. The 
Hymn of Propaganda. Hymns of the Social Gospel. Special 
Hymns. The Great Hymnic Themes. 



Lack of Discrimination. Wrong Assumptions of the Opposition. 
Unfairness in Comparisons Made. Criteria for Evaluation. Gos 
pel Hymns and the Unsaved. Gospel Hymns and the Demands 
of Worship. Gospel Hymns in the Preparatory Service. Gospel 
Hymns in the Laboratory. The Advantages of Gospel Hymns. 
Discrimination in the Use of Gospel Songs Needed. 







Rise of Sacred Song in Apostolic Times. Apostolic Emphasis of 
Sacred Song. Traces of Hymns in the Epistles. The Hymns of 
the Apocalypse. "The Odes of Solomon." The Failure of 
Apostolic Spiritual Songs to Survive. 



The Post-Apostolic Church a Singing Church. The Earliest 
Surviving Hymns. The Relation of Hymns to Psalms and Canti 
cles. The Hymn as Propaganda. ' 











































i ODY, 






















































Literary Pleasure. Literary Culture. Development of Emotional 

Classifying Hymns by Their Nature. Classifying Hymns by Their 
Fitness for Definite Purposes. 

IV THE MINUTE STUDY OF HYMNS. Analysis of the Hymn. 
The Background of the Hymn. Making a Hymnal of His Own. 
Memorizing Hymns. 

V A STUDY OF METHODS OF USE. Using Hymns in Sermons. 
Studying Responsiveness of the Congregation. Studying Methods 
of Announcement and Securing Participation. Studying Use of 
Hymnal for Specific Purposes. 













row Conception of Unity. Broader Conception of Unity. Unity 
Based on Purpose, 

on God's Omnipotence. Hymns for Service on God's Love. 
Hymns for a Missionary Service. 



HYMNS 266 










THE CHURCH OF GOD has been and is a singing church. This 
was true in the antediluvian centuries, which was its seminal 
period, for some of its canticles have survived. In its pupal 
stage, the Old Testament church life developed both the 
form and the content of the future hymnody. 

To the solo forms of the preceding period, the Mosaic social 
and religious organization now adds both the choral and the 
congregational forms of vocal worship. To the fear and awe 
of previous generations, the Christian development of the 
Church of God has added the intimate phases of adoration, 
of gratitude, of love, based on consciousness of communion 
with the Triune Deity. 

Outsicle of the Israelitish Church and its Christian consum 
mation, there has been little or no song in religious worship. 
The heathen deities were honored only with rude vocal and 
instrumental noises made by temple singers and players. It is 
the Church of God under all dispensations which was a sing 
ing church. To this day the voice of sacred song is practically 
absent from heathen temple. 

The Impulse to Sing Is Constitutional in Man. In the be 
ginning, song was a spontaneous expression of feeling, being 
based on man's original constitution as fully as breathing or 
speaking. Its exercise did not rise high enough in the con 
sciousness of men, nor so conspicuously affect the current of 



events, that account should be made o it in the sketchy out 
lines of the early history of the race. None the less do we 
hear unrelated echoes from Lamech and Jubal, 1 and from 
Laban's complaint that Jacob gave him no opportunity to bid 
farewell "with songs, with tabret, and with harp." 2 During 
the great Exodus, these echoes multiply and become more 
articulate at the Red Sea, 3 at the digging of the well at Beer, 4 
about the walls of Jericho, 5 Deborah, 6 Barak, 7 and Hannah, 8 
and the school of the prophets, 9 developing a grand crescendo 
which culminates in the full-voiced chorus and orchestra of 
the times of David and Solomon. 10 Undoubtedly all these 
were surviving manifestations of the unbroken tide of social 
and religious song that flowed on through the ages. The He 
brew church carried on the model constructed by the organ 
izing instinct of Samuel and the musical and literary genius 
of David, through the succeeding ages, and passed on the 
devotional impulse to the Christian Church. 
Biblical Authority for the Singing of Hymns. If any au 
thority for the use of hymns were needed beyond the unfailing 
urge of a sanctified soul to find expression for its spiritual 
experiences and to persuade other souls to seek a like blessed 
privilege, there would be ample provision in the development 
of religious song in the Jewish church, in the participation of 
Jesus in such a song at so high a peak of religious solemnity 
as the institution of "The Lord's Supper, 11 in the use of song 
by the Apostles in their private meetings and in unusual per 
sonal experiences from the very beginning, 12 in the exhorta 
tions of Paul 13 and James/ 4 and in the choral scenes of the 
great Apocalypse. 15 

The Use of Hymns in the Development of the Christian 
Church. But the use God has made of song through the suc 
ceeding centuries of the development of the Christian Church, 
is an even more striking indication of the high importance 
placed upon sacred song by the divine mind. 
The results of the thoughtful use of song., both in ancient 



times and the recent past, abundantly illustrate its value and 
are genuine laboratory proof of its power in deepening the 
spirituality of individuals, of communities, and even of na 
tions. The hymns of Huss and of Luther, the psalmody of 
Calvin and of Knox, the preparatory effect of the hymns of 
Watts for the great Second Reformation in England and its 
intensification by the hymns of the Wesleys, the joyous singing 
of rudely fashioned psalms and the newly introduced hymns 
in the Great Awakening in New England, the great evan 
gelistic movement in America and in England with its en 
thusiastic singing of unpretentious Gospel songs all establish 
on unquestionably scientific basis the spiritual value of sacred 

Cultural Value of Hymns. Compare the number of people 
in any given city or community who read poetry in any of its 
forms with the number of church attendants who read, even 
when they do not sing, from three to eight hymns every 
Lord's Day. In literary influence, unconsciously absorbed, 
this wide use of hymns is vastly more effective upon the public 
at large than the more intensive and conscious influence of 
distinctly literary verse. 

Millions of homes in Great Britain and America have copies 
of the Bible and of some hymnbook, while few of them have 
books of poetry. Phrases from hymns and psalms are a large 
part of the religious vocabulary of millions. They are quoted 
not only in sermons,, but in essays and general writings and in 
the public press, perhaps more generally than are poems. 

They have been appreciated by the greatest minds, who 
found them to be of great comfort and even delight, includ 
ing such men as Benjamin Franklin (who first issued Watts' 
hymns in America), George Washington, John Adams, 
Thomas Jefferson, and William Ewart Gladstone. They 
deeply interested the man, Matthew Arnold, although the 
literary critic, Matthew Arnold, had no use for them. 
Spiritual Value of Hymns. Hymns touch and influence the 



most intimate life of men, the moral and spiritual, and are 
always influential for good. They concentrate the comforting 
truths of the Gospel, make them rememberable; what is even 
more important, they add the emotional vitality to those truths 
that make them real and actual. 

To leave out the hymns from a single service might be an 
interesting experiment; but omit them permanently, as was 
the former custom among the Friends, and note how arid and 
flat the service becomes. 

To some, the hymnbook is simply the Bible in another form, 
bringing its doctrines, its ideals, its hopes, its promises, its 
comforts, and its spiritual inspirations in a more apprehensible 
form. Having passed through the crucible of the actual per 
sonal experience of the writers of the hymns, they are more 
concrete, more appealing, more actual. 

The Value of Singing Hymns Too Often Overlooked. Since 
the hymn has so high a spiritual value, it is all the, more dis 
tressing that its possibilities of spiritual helpfulness are so gen 
erally overlooked and ignored by our ministers and their 
people. Even where it seems to be distinctly cultivated and 
emphasized, it is often the merely physiological effects that are 
sought. In other apparently earnest endeavors to develop its 
value, there is the aridity of merely artistic and literary em 
phasis, or the formal liturgical aspect that is stressed! 

There is an absence of clear comprehension of what the 
hymns are intended to accomplish, of their meaning, of the 
emotions they are supposed to express, and of the methods 
to be used to vitalize them and to make them effective. They 
are used mechanically, in deference to tradition and good 
ecclesiastical form. Most ministers select hymns to fit the 
themes of their discourses, fitness depending solely on logical 

The spiritual life of the churches is not only the poorer 
and the shallower because of this loss of the quickening in 
fluence of the hymn, but this mechanical attitude is carried 



over to the other exercises o the divine service. The preacher 
who sings mechanically will pray mechanically, preach me 

The Need of Emphasis on Efficient Use of Hymns. The 
actual fact is that in the hymn the preacher has a most valuable 
factor in making his service spiritually effective. Even as a 
perfunctory exercise it has at least a social value; but if its 
emotional and spiritual possibilities are fully developed and 
exploited, it becomes one of the most impressive and thrilling 
means of securing genuinely religious results among his 
people. It is a tragedy that so many clergymen have such 
dull and unattractive services when through a proper use of 
hymns they might be made thrillingly interesting. Professor 
H. M. Poteat, of Wake Forest College, does not use too 
severe language in his Practical Hymnology when he says, 
**As a result of inexcusable ignorance, carelessness, and lazi 
ness, the singing of hymns, in all too many churches, instead 
of being an act of worship, has degenerated into a mere inci 
dent of the service, holding its place solely because of im- 
^emorial custom." 

It is the purpose of this treatise at least to prevent the 
ignorance Professor Poteat complains of so bitterly. The other 
difficulties can be removed only "by fasting and prayer." 




Chapter I 



Importance of Accurate Definition. Before undertaking the 
study of the hymn in its various aspects and relations, theo 
retical and practical, it should be very carefully defined. This 
is all the more necessary because the word "hymn" is used to 
cover so wide a sweep of religious poetry, and because our 
discussion is to be largely limited to its practical use in church 

Dr. Austin Phelps' test of a genuine hymn, "Genuineness 
of religious emotion, refinement of poetic taste, and fitness to 
musical cadence these are essential to a faultless hymn, as the 
three chief graces to a faultless character," l is a very clear and 
charming statement of some essentials of a hymn, which 
needed emphasis in his rather prosaic day, but does not include 
all the requisites of a useful hymn. 

Inadequate Definition. The narrow etymological definition 
of a hymn would confine it to sacred poems that, in at least 
some part of them, are directly addressed to some person of 
the Deity. St. Augustine limits the word "hymn" to "songs 
with praise to God without praise they are not hymns. If 
they praise aught but God, they are not hymns." Even now 
there are hymnologists who insist upon this limited concep 
tion. No less a writer than W. Garrett Horder, in his fresh 
and illuminating The Hymn Lover, insists that "the cardinal 
test of a hymn should be that it is in some one, if not the 



whole of its parts, addressed to God." This shuts out the use 
of sacred poetry in instruction, inspiration, exhortation, and 
special practical applications of hymns. Moreover, if the hymn 
is to be limited to worship, then the unconverted can never 
sing sincerely in the public service, and the ancient and 
medieval churches were justified in withdrawing the privilege 
of religious song from the general laity. 

Definition Must Be Based on Practical Considerations. The 
hymn is simply a means to the supreme end of all religious 
effort. That form of the hymn, that method of its use, and 
that musical assistance, which realize most fully the immediate 
and ultimate ends in view under given circumstances can be 
approved and used. This practical basis of actual spiritual 
results must govern in formulating the conception of the 
Christian hymn, as well as in forms of worship and prayer, 
in preaching, or in church organization. 

Since our discussion of the hymn has in view its contrib 
uting efficiently to concrete spiritual results, its definition must 
have a practical basis. Etymological, scholastic, traditional, 
abstractly idealistic considerations can have only minor weight. 
Types of Hymns. The hymn may be viewed frpm too many 
angles to confine it to any one definition. Hence we must 
recognize different types of the hymn: (a) There is the poem 
regarding religious life and feeling that cannot be brought 
within the limitations of a musical setting, constituting the 
Reading Hymn; (b) we have the formless, but elevated, ex 
pression of worship or religious truth that at best can only be 
chanted, which we may call the Canticle, in which may be 
included such hymns as the Te Deum, the Sanctus, and un~ 
metrical psalms; 'these, together with poems that are expres 
sions of emotion, yet are not fitted for mass singing but may 
be effectively set to music of a different order, may be recog 
nized as Solo, or Choral, Hymns, such of The Stabat Mater, 
The Dies Irae, and Sunset and Evening Star. 

There is left us the sacred poem of such a form and type 



that it may be called the Congregational or Singing Hymn, 
which is really the subject of the present practical discussion, 
and may be strictly defined as follows: 

Definition of the Congregational Hymn. The Congregational 
Hymn is a poem expressing worship, praise, thanksgiving, 
and prayer on the Godward side; personal spiritual experience, 
emotion, and inspiration on the human side; and instruction 
on the religious side. It must be adapted to mass thinking 
and expression, in a form fitted to be sung by a Christian 
congregation, and calculated to express and stimulate or create 
religious feeling and purpose. 


To Be Poetry, It Must Be Emotional. The initiating force of 
all poetry must be emotion of some kind. That emotion may 
be mere earnestness, it may be satire, it may be satisfaction in 
contemplation of beautiful scenes, or satisfaction in ideas and 
memories, or displeasure at impressions painful or abhorrent. 
Few of us realize how unfailing is the flow of emotion in our 
minds responding to the world about us and in us. 

To view life and the world through the eye of reason is 
valuable, of course; but if that vision lacks the support of the 
eye of emotion, it brings only a silhouette, without perspective, 
wanting a sense of reality. That is the weakness of abstract 
thinking, whether in theology or political economy. 

If the hymn, therefore, is to perform its functions, it must 
be definitely emotional to a greater or less extent. This is 
particularly true of hymns of Christian experience or in the 
hymn's functioning in inspiration and exhortation. To con 
fuse animal excitement with emotion is bad psychology. The 
genuine emotionality of a hymn is the best criterion of its 
practical value, for only through emotion can the will be 

It Must Have Poetical Form. The first requirement in this 
definition is that the hymn must be poetry. It should have 



meter and rhyme, else there can be no musical setting prac 
ticable for congregational use. The first task Calvin and his 
associates faced, after reaching the conclusion that only the 
inspired Psalms could be sung in the public religious assembly, 
was the preparation of a metrical version. True, the Psalms 
had been sung by the Greek and Roman Catholic churches, 
but only as chants by priestly choirs. In the English church 
service, these chants were frequently only led by the choir, 
the congregation joining in their singing. But this was prac 
ticable only in larger and long-established congregations, and 
even then there was more or less confusion. In general, this 
chanting was a failure, and the English church adopted the 
metrical versions. The use of the Psalms for responsive read 
ings in our modern church services is a definitely practicable 
way of utilizing their liturgical and spiritual values. 

The ostensible hymns of the Greek Church, of which Dr. 
Neale and Dr. Brownlie have furnished translations, or rather 
transformations, are not verse but prose. They were not sung 
by the congregations, or put into their hands, but were re 
served for the reading >f the clergy. 

In like manner, the Latin hymns, although poetical in form 
often complicated to an absurd degree were not sung by 
the people, but were versified devotions inserted in the prose 
Psalms usually read by the priests. 

In the Reformed churches for many centuries the word 
"hymn" referred to verses of "human composure," as opposed 
to metrified inspired Psalms. 

The famous American hymnologist, Dr. Louis J. Benson, 
lays less stress on this metrical form: "A Christian hymn, 
therefore, is a form of words appropriate to be sung or 
chanted in public devotions." This opens the way for the in 
clusion of the "Te Deum Laudamus," the "Sanctus," and 
other canticles among our hymns. But as these historic texts 
are rarely or never sung by the people outside of the Church 
of England service, and used chiefly as texts for more or 



less elaborate musical compositions sung by choirs, we may 
accept the common conception of the hymn as a metrical 

It Must Be Poetic in Spirit. While having the superficial 
music of the regularly recurring accents, and the liquid har 
mony of the vowels and consonants of the words as they 
flow through the lines, there must be also the deeper, more 
entrancing music of the literary grace of spiritual thought 
singing its beautiful expression. If poetry is "the expression 
of thought steeped in imagination and feeling," all the more 
must the hymn be expressive of religious thought trans 
figured by deep and sincere emotion. 

While a hymn may be didactic, formulating doctrine, or 
enforcing obligation, it is not a really good and effective hymn 
unless the thought or exhortation is vitalized by imagination 
and emotion. Arid versification of Christian doctrines 
metaphysically conceived, or of ethical discussions with no 
heat of conviction, will stir no pulses of body, mind, or soul, 
but will conduce to the all too prevalent sense of the un 
reality of religious ideas and life. 

The Hymn Must Have Unity. It must have unity of thought, 
emotion, and expression, all growing out of a definite vision 
of emotion, having a beginning, middle, and end, which mark 
the progress of the idea or feeling seeking formulation. 2 
The Poetical Element Is Contributory Only. Yet this element 
must be felt in the spirit of the hymn rather than in intention. 
Preciosity of phrase, elaborate metaphors and similes, obscure 
allusions, flights of fancy, are rarely in place. John Newton, 
the great hymn writer, speaks to this point in his usual forceful 
way: "Perspicuity, simplicity, and ease should be chiefly at 
tended to; and the imagery and coloring of poetry, if admitted 
at all, should be indulged in very sparingly and with great 
judgment." Sir Roundell Palmer is more detailed in his criti 
cism: "Affectation or visible artifice is worse than excess of 
homeliness; a hymn is easily spoikd by a single falsetto note." 3 



The emphasis of the literary and poetical elements in hymns 
has produced some most valuable sacred lyrics, notably the 
hymns of Keble and Heber; but occasionally it has also led to 
such refinement, to such sought-out subtlety, and to such con 
scious preciosity that the virility and emotional contagion of 
what might have been an otherwise really effective hymn have 
been lost. 


Poems of Semi-religious Fancy Are Not Hymns. Poems of 
fancy with a few religious allusions cannot be classed as Chris 
tian hymns. The objection to the "Beautiful Isle of Some 
where" 4 has been rather heatedly urged, and there is no small 
justification for the criticism. The aboriginal idea of "the 
happy hunting grounds" might be referred to by its rather 
invertebrate fancy, instead of the heaven of the Christian 
faith. Eugene Field's "The Divine Lullaby" so vaguely sug 
gests the divine care that it can hardly pass muster as a 
hymn. For use as a hymn, a poem must be explicitly Chris 
tian in thought and expression. 

Mere Moralizing Will Not Serve. That a poem has a good 
moral does not authorize it to pose as a Christian hymn. 
"Brighten the Corner Where You Are" cannot be recognized 
as a Christian hymn, since it has no direct religious signifi 
cance. There are recent ostensible sociological and humani 
tarian hymns that are open to the same criticism. It is not 
enough that the underlying assumptions are of Christian 
origin; they must be fundamentally religious, no matter what 
the application to practical living may be. * 

Special Propaganda Is Not Admissible. The value Q| hymns 
as a method of introducing and enforcing doctrines was 
recognized by the enemies of Christianity early in its his 
tory. The Arians in Asia Minor and in Northern Africa, 
and later throughout the Roman Empire, flooded the world 



with songs sung to the popular melodies attacking the deity 
o Christ; and by their influence nearly wrecked Christianity. 
In our own day various "sports" from Christianity, and 
hybrids with other religions, are issuing collections of songs 
and garbled Christian hymns to serve their purposes. The 
Buddhists of Japan also are taking Christian songs bodily, 
with such changes as seem to them necessary. Unitarian hym 
nal editors have not hesitated to alter oxthodox hymns to suit 
their own views. 

That these emasculated hymns are no longer Christian 
hymns need not be argued at length. The difficulty is that 
they have lost the kernel of genuine Christian thought. The 
same is true of humanistic lyrics of propoganda in behalf 
of brotherhood or social welfare or economic justice, in which 
the religious motive is not urged. In general, a controversial 
poem cannot be recognized as a hymn; there is no religious 
help in controversy. Its emotions are combative, not devout. 
Christian Hymns Should Be Genuinely Christocentric. A 
Christian hymn should express some definite recognition of 
God as manifested in Jesus Christ. Even if, as in metrical 
psalms, the name of Christ is not used, it should be implied, 
and unanimously accepted as implied. It may be worship, 
praise, prayer, confession, acceptance of salvation through 
Jesus Christ, spiritual experience, consecration, Christian doc 
trine, Christian hopes or any other aspect or activity of the 
Christian faith. This is the very heart of the Christian hymn. 


Hymns Based on the Scriptures. If the hymn is to be reli 
gious and Christian, it must be based on scriptural ideas, of 
course; we have no other authoritative source for our doctrines 
or experiences. All our other religious ideas and methods 
our doctrines, our ethics, our religious ideals and impulses 
find their roots there. We cannot afford to sing far-fetched 
inferences from unrelated scriptural passages when we have 



such bodies of stupendous truth awaiting our contemplation, 
and when the hymnic expression of the emotions which those 
high and conspicuous doctrines call forth is so freely avail 
able. Scriptural truth, so plain that he who runs may sing, 
is the only raw material from which Christian hymns can be 
produced. It will provide for every religious need of the 
individual and of the Church. 

Use of Scriptural Forms Desirable. There can be no ques 
tion but that when scriptural phraseology is used spontaneous 
ly, it adds very much to the impressiveness of the hymn be 
cause of the devout associations it brings up in the minds of 
the singers. The hymn by so much acquires an authoritative- 
ness and elevation beyond ordinary verbiage. 

But while the body of thought in a hymn must be distinctly 
religious, and therefore scriptural, it does not follow that the 
forms of expression must be scriptural as well. A distin 
guished writer on the subject here seems to be at fault:* 
"Nothing should be called a hymn and nothing should be 
sung in our assemblies which is not virtually a paraphrase 
and that a very faithful one of Scripture passages, whether 
they are immediately connected in the Holy Word or not." 
Apply that rule to our hymnbooks and what would we have 

Although biblical phrases do occur in many hymns, a 
very close adherence to this rule would stifle the poet's 
spontaneity and make his hymn stiff and mechanical, like 
most of the metrical psalms. Such a rule may seem very 
devout to the cursory reader, but really it is mischievous; it 
is sheer bibliolatry, an emphasis of the letter that killeth at 
the expense of the spirit that maketh alive. 


That the hymn is a distinctly social expression, participated 
in by the varied personalities massed in a congregation, intro 
duces marked limitations that cannot be evaded. 



Congregational Singing Is a Pronounced Christian Exercise. 
It is a remarkable fact that only in Hebrew and Christian 
worship is a congregational use o hymns conspicuous. With 
all their literary and poetic urge for expression, the Greeks had 
no singing connected with their temple rites. 5 In so far as the 
Egyptians had musical elements in their temple ritual, it was 
choral and not congregational In visiting pagan temples, one 
is struck by the utter absence of organized assembled worship; 
what worship occurs is individual only. 

The Vedic hymns were not singing hymns, but reading 
hymns, for recital and meditation. According to Max 
Mueller, the only share the women had in the sacrifices was 
that the wife of the officiating priest, or head of the house, 
should recite the necessary hymns. Although in India there 
is singing connected with great festivals and processions, the 
songs used are so obscene that respectable Hindus are making 
*an effort to have the public singing of them forbidden. They 
are usually sung by the female attendants of the idol, temple 
prostitutes, who are the professional singers of these ostensi 
bly religious songs. 6 

The reason for this absence of true hymns is correctly in 
dicated by W. Garrett Horder in his The Hymn Lover: "But 
so far as the material before us enables us to form an opinion, 
it is that hymns, as an essential of worship, have been mostly 
characteristic of the Christian and, in a less degree, of its 
progenitor, the Hebrew religion. Nor is this much to be won 
dered at, since it is the only religion calculated to draw out 
at once the two elements necessary to such a form of wor 
ship awe and love awe which lies at the heart of worship, 
and love which kindles it into adoring song." 
Meter Essential to Mass Singing. The form of the verse is 
practically of commanding importance. The musical form of 
the hymn tune definitely fixes the form of the stanza. It must 
not be complicated or free in form, else the tune loses its 
needed simplicity and symmetry. More elaborate forms of 



stanza may do for solo or choral numbers, where skilled 
composers write music that follows the vagaries of the form 
of the text; but the general congregation cannot be expected 
to sing tunes of elaborate and confusing structure. Although 
an occasional hymn of unusual form of stanza is fortunate in 
finding a happy musical mate, like "Lead, kindly Light" or 
"O Love, that wilt not let me go," the usual hymn must be 
adapted to one of about a dozen fundamental meters. Al 
though the Gospel song is not so circumscribed in its form, 
because its setting goes with it, its forms are only rhythmical 
variations of the standard meters. 


Ideas Must Be Plainly Evident. The thought of a good hymn 
must lie on the surface. It must appeal not only to the 
scholarly and subtle minds in a singing congregation, but also 
to all who are expected to join the religious exercise. Paul's 
word regarding unknown tongues applies here: "Except ye 
utter by the tongue words easy to be understood, how shall it 
be understood, how shall it be known what is spoken?'* The 
practical Paul enforces the parallel by saying a few verses 
further on, "I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with 
the understanding also." No matter how high the thought 
or how deep the sentiment of a poem may be, or how 
felicitously they may be expressed, it is not an effective hymn 
if study (for which there is no time at the moment of singing) 
is required to bring out its meaning and feeling. 
Hymns May Not Be Extremely Individualistic. While a 
hymn may be the expression of the individual poet, it must be 
an appropriate expression of the mind and heart of the whole 
congregation as it sings. Yet in addition to the evident, clearly 
expressed thought, there may be singing, sotto voce between 
the lines, of deeper experiences and higher soarings of the 
spirit that only prolonged meditation can reveal 
Some sacred poems express a religious emotion in so indi- 



vidual and unusual a way that they are not at all fitted to 
express the emotion of a congregation. As an illustration o 
a poem too personal and individualistic, here are a few stanzas 
of a hymn of Rev. Samuel J. Stone, which is found in an in 
creasing number of current hymnals : 

"My feet are worn and weary with the march 

On the rough road and up the steep hillside; 
O city of our God, I fain would see 

Thy pastures green where peaceful waters glide. 

Patience, poor soul! The Saviour's feet were worn, 
The Saviour's heart and hands were weary too; 

His garments stained and travel-worn, and old, 
His vision blinded with pitying dew." 

This is a beautiful poem that would make an admirable text 
for a solo, but it is out of place on the lips of a congregation. 
Compare with this the very useful hymn by Bonar : 

"I was a wand'ring sheep, 

I did not love the fold; 
I did not love my Shepherd's voice, 
I would not be controlled." 

Every one of the first eight lines of this once widely used 
hymn begins with the pronoun of the first person singular, 
yet there is no particular individuality in this confession; it is 
the expression of the common experience in a straightforward 
manner, void of all idiosyncrasy. 

In some hymns there is found an intensity of feeling that 
leads to an apparent extravagance of expression that a single 
soul can sometimes sincerely accept as the vehicle of its own 
experience, but which a gathering of miscellaneous people 
cannot sing without the great mass of them being insincere. 
For a careless person idly to sing with Faber, 

"I love Thee so, I know not how 
My transports to control/' 




"Ah, dearest Jesus, I have grown 
Childish with love of Thee," 

is sheer blasphemy. It is the sin of Uzziah! 

The following verses from one of Charles Wesley's hymns 
combine the two faults of extravagance and too-intense in 

"On the wings of His love I was carried above 

All sin and temptation and pain; 
I could not believe that I ever should grieve, 
That I ever should suffer again. 

I rode in the sky (freely justified I), 

Nor envied Elijah his seat; 
My soul mounted higher in a chariot of fire, 

And the moon it was under my feet." 

Distracting Figures and Forms of Expression. Other poems 
are so full of imagination, so crowded with unusual and al 
most bizarre figures of speech, that they fail to be the natural 
expression of the religious emotion of an assembly of reli 
gious people. George Herbert wrote a great many religious 
poems whose beauty and charm are only enhanced by their 
quaint and unusual imagery. Occasionally a hymnal editor 
ventures on a selection, but it is so foreign to the methods 
of thought and expression of the churches as not to appeal to 
their taste and feeling. Take the beautiful poem on the 
Sabbath day, "O day most calm, most bright." The first line 
is spontaneous, expressive, and musical, and appropriate for 
a hymn. The second line, "The fruit of this, the next world's 
bud," with its antithetical structure, is already somewhat 
formal and forced. But when the third and fourth lines, 

1 'The indorsement of supreme delight, 
Writ by a Friend and with His blood," 



offer a purely legal and unpoetical figure, one's sense of song 
is entirely obscured. 

Yet, when Herbert's imagery is most matter-of-fact and 
ungenial, there is a body of thought and there are a certain 
fitness and a clearness of relation that command admiration. 
Verses Must Be Complete in Themselves. Hymns that have 
long, intricate sentences extending through two or more verses 
are impracticable for use in a song service, as the break be 
tween the stanzas dislocates the development of the idea. 
Every verse must be practically complete in itself, no matter 
what its relation to the development of the general idea of 
the hymn may be. 

Musical Limitations. It must also be recognized that there 
are limits to the expression congregational music can give. A 
poem that is vividly descriptive, or is in part intensely drar 
matic, cannot be recognized as a practicable hymn, since all 
stanzas have the same tune, a tune which cannot vary its 
musical effect to suit the differing stanzas. 

Then there are hymns that are too majestic, too glowing, 
for a hymn-tune composer to write a fitting tune out of the 
limited resources of musical effects available to him. Such a 
hymn is that one of Henry Kirke White, of lamented 
memory : 

"The Lord our God is clothed with might. 

The winds obey His will; 
He speaks, and in His heavenly height 
The rolling sun stands still. 

His voice sublime is heard afar, 

In distant peals it dies; 
He yokes the whirlwind to His car 

And sweeps the howling skies." 

With a chorus of a thousand trained singers, an organ of 
extraordinary power, and an orchestra of five hundred instru- 



ments, all concentrated on "St. Anne," one might make the 
music adequate to the words, but in an ordinary congregation 
the incongruity is painful. This must remain a reading hymn. 
Outworn Hymns. The efficient hymn must not distinctly 
belong to previous generations in its style and vocabulary or 
in its peculiar formulation of doctrine. Only as many of the 
older hymns have been purged of their obsolete and archaic 
words and turns of thought have they survived. For in 
stance., we no longer sing, "Eye-strings break in death," as 
Toplady originally wrote it. 

Mistaken Objections to Some Hymns. Some minds, although 
strong and keen, seem to have a very small visual angle. 
Some such persons condemn all hymns that are not direct 
praise. The line in Lyte's "Abide with Me" "Hold Thou 
Thy cross before my closing eyes" has been objected to as 
Romish by some, blind to the fact that it is a prayer to Christ. 

Others exclude hymns in which the pronoun of the first 
person singular occurs. Bishop Wordsworth, himself a hymn- 
writer of no mean merit (vide "O Day of rest and gladness" 
and "See, the Conqueror rides in triumph"), says, in his 
introduction to his Holy Year, that while the ancient hymns 
are distinguished by self-forgetfulness, the modern hymns are 
characterized by self-consciousness. As illustrative examples, 
he cites the following: "When I can read my title clear," 
"When I survey the wondrous cross," "My God, the spring 
of all my joys," and "Jesus, Lover of my soul." It is strange 
that so keen a mind should not have seen that his objection 
would apply to all liturgies! 

The minister with his eye fixed upon his spiritual purpose 
can afford to ignore all these supersensitive critics who have 
refined refinement until sensibility becomes hyperesthesia, a 
veritable disease. 

The use of hymns of a somewhat indifferent literary value 
is often thoughtlessly condemned because the importance of 
the recognition of its topic is overlooked. Such a topic as 



"Church Erection," or "Education/* may not occasion the deep 
feeling necessary to the writing o a great hymn, and yet it 
must find a place in the practical work of the church. Here 
again Dr. Phelps gives a useful warning: "The severity of 
aesthetic taste must not be permitted to contract the range of 
devotional expression in song. . . . Our desire to restrict the 
number of hymns upon occasions, and other hymns of infre 
quent use, ought not to banish such hymns entirely. ... A 
hymn intrinsically inferior, therefore, may be so valuable 
relatively, as justly to displace a hymn which is intrinsically 
its superior." 

Aside from the topical symmetry referred to, this principle 
will find other applications in the practical use of hymns. 
Some inferior hymns have for some occasions a greater im 
mediate effect than much better ones, perhaps because of a 
more singable tune or because its sentiment fits into the 
situation or because it makes a desired impression in a more 
efficient way. 





THE writing of the best hymns o the Christian Church was 
not a matter of ulterior purpose, any more than is the singing 
of the hermit thrush in the wilderness. They are the result 
of the urge for expression that lies back of all the best archi 
tecture, literature, and art of the human race. There is the 
vision, the sense of reality, the subjective response to truth, 
to beauty, and to exalted experiences that must find an ob 
jective bodying-forth in some appropriate form. 

The great doctrines of Christianity loom up in their dignity 
and majestic sweep, in their adequacy to the highest and 
deepest needs of the human soul The spontaneous hymn 
is but a cry of astonished delight, of exalted inspiration, of 
self-forgetful contemplation of the revealed glory, an instinc 
tive appeal to other souls to share the rapture of the vision. 
Such a hymn is not calmly planned; it forces itself upon the 
mind of the rapt poet. 


The Influence of Purpose. This instinct for sharing with 
others, for winning their attention and participation in a 
blessed experience, may produce a measure of premeditation 
and become a more or less clearly defined purpose. The idea 
of the needs of other souls, or of the Church at large, may be- 



come an additional factor, bringing in the recognition o the 
importance of adaptation to the mental processes of those to be 
helped, or of practical methods of reaching them. 

Also the originating impulse may grow, as in the case of 
Isaac Watts, out of the call of some perceived need among the 
writer's fellows, or of some lack in the work of the Church. 
The emotional and poetic elements may be marshaled by 
bringing up the memory of some past exalted vision of the 
truth, or of some former quickening spiritual experience, or 
(better yet!) by an abiding realization of the truth of some 
doctrine, or by a perennial flow of devout feeling. 

Dr. Martineau insisted that "every spontaneous utterance of 
a deep devotion is poetry in its essence, and has only to fall 
into lyrical form to be a hymn." But he went further and 
declared that "no expression of thought or feeling that has an 
ulterior purpose (i.e., instruction, exposition, persuasion, or im 
pression) can have the spirit of poetry." His idealism failed 
to realize that the spirit of poetry in a writer may be associated 
with a purpose of helpfulness urging expression in an efficient 
form. To delete all the hymns in our church collections 
that have definite spiritual purposes would rob the Christian 
Church of most of its devoutest and most helpful hymns. 
The Purpose Must Affect Only the Practical Aspects. Both 
the literary and devotional value of a hymn of purpose will 
depend upon the writer's ability to reproduce the mental con 
ditions of a purely spontaneous hymn. If the purpose can 
be confined to the practical aspects of the hymn, while the 
spiritual and poetic impulses control the thought and spirit, 
then the most valuable and effective hymn may be produced. 

But if the ulterior purpose fully occupies the mind of the 
writer, the hymn will be mechanical and uninspiring. In 
the more prolific hymn writers, like Watts and Charles Wes 
ley, the relative influence of vision and purpose is easily 
detected. In their best hymns, the purpose is still present, 
but latent, and its guidance unconscious. 



When we speak of the purpose of the hymn, therefore, it is 
not so much the mental attitude of the writer that is to be 
considered as that of the user of the hymn. He finds a body 
of religious verse ready to his hand, some of which is adapted 
to secure spiritual ends, or fitted to the social conditions which 
he seeks to improve. His purpose controls not the production 
of available verse, but the selection from existing stores of re 
ligious lyrics. 

The choice of hymns by the user will be determined by the 
characteristics and limitations which his practical purposes de 
mand. There are three inevitable factors: the end to be 
realized, the people to be influenced, and the hymns adapted 
to affect both. 


Hymns Unite Christians in Worship and Christian Activities, 
The singing of hymns is the most practicable method of 
linking assembled Christians in worship and praise and of 
creating a common interest in the various church activities. 
(This is really the leading purpose of such a gathering. 1 

Worship in prayer, when it is spontaneous, must be largely 
individual; when it is expressed in responsive ritual, there is 
great danger of|mechanical stiffness ^in the outward form of 
the prayers and in their reading, and also in the limited area 
of the thought to be expressed. But song is the natural and 
spontaneous vehicle for exalted feeling and gives the greatest 
opportunity for varied sentiment. VpJo one individual could 
hope to strike all the strings of noble praise as have a thou 
sand saints who have written our hymns. 
Hymns Concentrate Interest and Attention. There is a con 
centration of interest and attention. The common thought, 
the common emotion, the common impulse of devotion/ the 
common expression, the unanimous attitude of will and pur- 



pose all quicken the susceptibilities and enlarge the spiritual 
horizon. God seems nearer, more actual, and more realizable 
as the source of every blessing. Abstract ideas of God as 
Father, of his Son Jesus Christ as Saviour, of the Holy Spirit 
as Comforter, quicken into blessed realities. It is easy to ap 
propriate the joy, the reverence, the adoration, the intimate 
communion with God, which the hymns so clearly, so mov 
ingly, so contagiously, even so rapturously express, and to 
make them intimately our own. This is true worship, the 
high peak in man's experience of God. ^ 

The social elements in human nature come into play and 
intensify the religious emotions. The personal distractions 
and inhibitions that hamper devotion are eliminated. Under 
properly effective conditions there is a mass attitude, a mass 
emotion, that needs only a mass expression to affect every 
individual unit. The contagion of the crowd in expression 
and in action will affect the most sluggish and indifferent and 
carry them into an experience that they could not have 
reached alone. Add to this the stimulation of the music and 
the physical exhilaration of singing, and the worship is lifted 
to a pitch of enthusiasm not otherwise possible. 

This worshipful use of hymns exercises a most inspiring and 
vitalizing influence on the participants. The reaction of the 
mind and soul of the singers to the exalted sentiments sung 
must have a profoundly spiritualizing effect upon their na 
tures. One cannot sing the old Latin hymn, "J esus > the very 
thought of Thee," in any genuine way without feeling an 
accession of greater love to Christ; or "My faith looks up to 
Thee," by Ray Palmer, without a deeper realization of one's 
dependence on Jesus Christ for salvation and for keeping 
grace. 2 

Hymns Afford a Means of Expression* for the Congregation. 
Another office of the church hymn is to give a voice to those 
deep experiences in spiritual things that enrich the lives of the 
children of God. Many excellent Christians are dumb, un- 



able to give expression to their genuine spiritual experiences. 
Others find their means of voicing what they feel totally 
inadequate. The hymns they sing and appropriate to them 
selves unstop their silent tongue. High tides of spiritual 
blessings, times of refreshing when Christ is near to the soul, 
hours of privilege when the whispering of the Holy Spirit is 
heard, victories over fierce or subtle temptation when God's 
grace proves sufficient, moments of God's overshadowing 
presence when the whole worfd is transfigured, and a thou 
sand other marvelous experiences in the Christian life all call 
for hymns to express them. They must be tender hymns, 
ecstatic hymns, triumphant hymns that will satisfy the craving 
of the soul to voice forth its deepest love, its spiritual ecstasies, 
its strange sense of overcoming power. The dumb soul, un 
able to speak of its explorations of divine grace, finds a voice 
in these hymns written by saints who had the divine gift of 
expressing like glimpses of the divine glory. 3 
Hymns Provide Help and Comfort in Dar^ Hours. These 
hymns not only bring the joy of giving articulate expression 
to these mountain-top experiences, thus reviving them again 
and again, but they validate these experiences by showing that 
others have shared them and give them reality in the hours 
when faith fails and the temptation arises to consider them 
mere mirages and illusions. Others have been with us in 
Bunyan's Beulah Land and verify our experiences of its de 

Hymns Afford Clear Expressions of Christian Truth. An 
other purpose in the use of hymns is to secure the clearest, 
most impressive, most appealing, most rememberable state 
ment of the leading truths of the Christian faith that will fix 
them most ineradicably in the consciousness and the life of 
the individual and of the church. Such hymns must not be 
dry formulations of abstract doctrines, desiccated by logical 
discussions and metaphysical hair-splittings. Truth that is dry 
is no longer vital truth. Its vitamins of reality, of the deep 



feelings called forth by a sense of its actuality, of spiritual and 
poetic intuition, of self-propagating vitality, have been lost. 
Aridity of orthodoxy begets aridity of heterodoxy and is usual 
ly responsible for it. 

Didactic hymns that will serve the purposes of the Church 
must be living hymns, expressing truth transfigured by the 
feelings aroused by the contemplation of its glorious reality. 
"There is little heresy in hymns/' Heresies for the most part 
arise from arid mechanical reasonings; hymns flow from the 
intuitions of the heart. 4 This explains why some of our best 
hymns about Christ were written by Unitarians. 
Hymns Give Opportunity for Active Participation by AIL 
Another purpose of the singing of hymns is to secure the active 
participation of the whole congregation in the service. Al 
though the responsive reading is valuable in this respect, the 
union of all the voices of the people in song is more striking, 
calls for more aggressive effort, and definitely wins the atten 
tion of all to the sentiments expressed in the hymn. It creates 
Qiore interest and stimulates both body and mind. 
Hymns Provide Variety. The singing of hymns also adds 
marked variety to the order of service and so renders it more 
attractive. It supplies climaxes in different parts of the pro 
gram and relaxations of attention to the spoken word. It 
represents a greater contrast with the other exercises because 
it calls for active participation and produces entirely different 
effects. The lack of song in the services of the Friends has 
been one of the greatest factors in the limited growth of a 
movement representing deep earnestness, conscientiousness, 
and spirituality. 

This variety and the opportunity to take a modest part in 
the service have proved among the greatest attractions. The 
more singing, the more people, is the universal experience. 
Hymns Create a Religious Atmosphere. The use of hymns 
creates an atmosphere of religious interest and feeling that is 
realized not only by the believers in the congregation, but by 



the unregenerate as well They may not enter fully into the 
spirit of the exercises, but an intellectual interest is awakened 
by the singing that may rise into spiritual interest and into 
an approach to the spiritual life. Rev. George F. Pentecost, 
famous in his day as a preacher and as a very successful evan 
gelist, recognized the aggressive and practical value of hymn- 
singing: "I am profoundly sure that among the divinely or 
dained instrumentalities for the conversion and sanctification 
of the soul, God has not given a greater, besides the preaching 
of the Gospel, than the singing of psalms and hymns and 
spiritual songs. I have known a hymn to do God's work in 
a soul when every other instrumentality has failed I have 
seen vast audiences melted and swayed by a simple hymn 
when they have been unmoved by a powerful presentation of 
the Gospel from the pulpit." 

Hymns in the Home. No small practical value in Chris 
tian hymns is found in their use in family life where young 
and old sing them together and so sanctify and spiritualize 
the household atmosphere. The storing of the memories of 
the children with the leading hymns of the church is no small 
factor in their Christian nurture. The older members of the 
family also will be stimulated spiritually, finding in the 
memorized hymns strength and solace while they bear the 
heat and burden of the day. We have lost the spiritual atmos 
phere in many of our Christian homes, not only by the neglect 
of the family altar, but also by the neglect of the singing and 
memorizing of the hymns and tunes of the church. 

One of the chief influences in the preparation of Ira D. 
Sankey for his great life-work was the singing,of hymns as the 
family gathered around the great log-fire in the homestead. 
He not only familiarized himself with the old hymns and 
tunes and popular sacred songs, but he was impressed by 
their spirit and by their adaptation to the needs of the human 
Hymns in Personal Worl(. The use of hymns ia personal 



work, in the visitation of the sick, in improvised religious 
gatherings in private homes, has been largely abandoned, 
much to the loss of the churches. When D. L. Moody was 
trying out Ira D. Sankey during the latter's pregnant first 
visit to Chicago, his singing to the sick and to the spiritually 
needy ones they called upon was a notable item in the prac 
tical test. 

Prof. Waldo S. Pratt, of the Hartford Theological Semi 
nary, whose most valuable book has been quoted in these 
pages again and again, sums up the results of an intelligent 
and devout use of hymns most admirably: "Hymn-singing 
may surely be called successful when it affords an avenue for 
true approach to God in earnest and noble worship; when it 
exerts a wholesome and uplifting reflex influence on those 
who engage in it, establishing them in the truth and quicken 
ing their spirituality; and when it creates a diffused atmos 
phere of high religious sympathy and vigorous consecration, 
so that even unbelievers are affected and constrained by it." 5 

But if these purposes of the singing of hymns are to be 
realized and their values exploited, they must be properly 
employed. They must be made vital and their messages 
brought home to the hearts of the people. There should be 
no listless, merely formal singing of noble Christian hymns. 
There is unwitting sacrilege in doing that. The truth of God, 
the high experiences of his saints, are rendered unreal and 
lose their appealthey become stale. 

There are multiplied millions of true believers who duplicate 
the unhappy experience of a prominent London preacher who 
declared that he did not exactly disbelieve the carding doc 
trines of Christianity, but that they had become unreal to him. 
They were only abstractions, playthings of his logical faculties, 
husks from which the living kernel had fallen, which left his 
soul hungry. How could a minister by the discussion of 
what seemed to him unrealities inspire and spiritualize his 
hearers? How can any minister to whom the hymns in his 



hymnal are dry and abstract rhymes about vague and unin 
teresting platitudes at best, be able to make his song service a 
vital contribution to the spiritual progress of his people? If 
the hymns stir him, he can easily make them stir the people. 



Hymns Are Evidences of the Effect of the Bible. The hymn- 
book is an evidence of what the Bible can do with un- 
regenerate human nature. That the truth of the Bible should 
be able to take Newton, the slave driver, and make of him a 
minister of God, not only himself writing such hymns as 
"Amazing grace, how sweet the sound," "Glorious things of 
Thee are spoken," or "How sweet the name of Jesus sounds," 
but inspiring and encouraging the poor hypochondriac, Wil 
liam Cowper, so that from his heart should well forth the 
hymns, "There is a fountain filled with blood," "God moves 
in a mysterious way," and "Sometimes a light surprises," is in 
itself one of the great evidences of Christianity. 
Hymns and Psalms Affected the Life of the Church, The 
extraordinary result of the use of hymns and psalms in the life 
of the church and of believers is another reason for the minis 
ter's valuing hymns highly. The awkward lines of Sternhold 
and Hopkins' version of the psalms entered into the speech 
and private devotion of Scotch and English Christians as even 
the Bible itself did not, becoming a very liturgy to the con- 
demners and flouters of liturgies. Thomas Jackson in his 
life of Charles Wesley remarks that "it is doubtful whether 
any human agency has contributed more directly to form the 
character of the Methodist societies than the hymns. The ser 
mons of the preachers, the prayers of the people, both in their 
families and social meetings, are all tinged with the sentiments 
and phraseology of the hymns." 

Hymns in Personal Christian Experience. Listen to the per 
sonal experiences of Christians in our own day and you will 



hear more reference to hymns than to the Scriptures. There 
is now no such committing to memory of passages of the Bible 
and of hymns as there was in preceding generations, but al 
most without set purpose, by simple absorption, the average 
Christian can quote more lines of hymns than he can of 
Scripture verses. This extraordinary place in the affections 
and life of Christian people is no derogation to the Bible, 
for the hymns are simply the Bible in another form. 
Hymns as Stimulating the Spiritual Life of the Minister. To 
some men who lack emotional and poetic insight, the hymn- 
book may appear dry and uninteresting. It certainly is un 
interesting to the unspiritual man, no matter how poetical he 
may be, and this will account for the occasional attack upon 
the hymns of the Christian Church as being without poetical 
power or merit. But the Christian minister, who deals with 
spiritual things, for whom the emotions of the human heart 
give a great opportunity for sowing the seed of life, ought to 
find the study of his hymnbook a great delight. 
Hymns Approved by Paul. If there were no other reason why 
s?int&ister should be profoundly interested in hymns and 
their use in religious work, the example and exhortations of 
Paul should be sufficient. He does not lay as much stress upon 
preaching, nor upon praying, as he does on singing. Me 
admonishes the Ephesians that they ^be filled with the Spirit"; 
and that divine possession should manifest itself in "speaking 
to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing 
and making melody in your heart to the Lord." A part of this 
exercise of singing was to consist of "giving thanks unto God 
and the Father in the name -of our Lord Jesus Christ." 6 

He exhorts the Colossians, "Let the word of Christ dwell in 
you richly in all wisdom," and one of the results of such 
indwelling was to be "teaching and admonishing one another 
in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs"; he even urges 
earnestness and sincerity in such singing, "Singing with grace 
in your hearts to the Lord." 7 Such singing should 'not be 



with mere enthusiasm, for he assures the Corinthians that his 
singing was not only devout but intelligent as well: "I will 
sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding 
also." 8 There is more than a suspicion that in some of his 
most striking passages he is quoting a current hymn or inter 
jecting a part of an improvised hymn. 

Hymns in the Early Church. The emphasis placed on the 
value of song by 'the early church is made clear by Tertullian, 
who states that at the current "love feasts" each person in 
attendance was invited at the close of the feast to sing either 
from the Holy Scriptures or from the dictates of his own spirit 
a song of adoration to God. 

In the middle of the third century St. Basil testifies to the 
value of congregational singing as practiced in his day: "If 
the ocean is beautiful and worthy of praise to God, how much 
more beautiful is the conduct of the Christian assembly where 
the voices of men and women and children, blended and 
sonorous like the waves that break upon the beach, rise amidst 
our prayers to the very presence of God." The remark is 
made by one of the ancient fathers that the singing of the 
churches often attracted "Gentiles" i.e., unconverted persons 
to their services, who were baptized before their departure. 
Hymns Prepared the Church for Periods of Marked Progress. 
While by no means the only cause for such progress, a great 
increase in the writing and singing of hymns has been a con 
spicuous feature in every great religious movement. The 
converse is also true that when the privilege of congregational 
singing was curtailed or withdrawn, spiritual declension fol 

The victory of the Church over Arianism was a singing 
victory both in the Eastern and Western churches. The Cru 
sades were marked by processional singing of religious songs. 
The singing Lollards and Hussites heralded the Great Refor 
mation, and the most effective preaching of Huss and Luther 
and Calvin was the hymns and metrical psalms they intro- 



duced. Watts prepared the way for the Wesleyan revival, and 
the Wesley brothers entered the path he had blazed and made 
a great highway of Christian song. Dour New England 
found its voice during the Great Revival under Jonathan Ed 
wards and later under Nettleton. The preachers who saved 
the pioneers of the Appalachian range of mountains and the 
budding Middle West from relapsing into paganism and 
savagery were "singing parsons" with their repertoire of "spir 
itual" revival choruses and religious ballads. 

Even Charles G. Finney, the great praying evangelist and 
later founder of Oberlin College, whose revivals swept through 
New York and northern Ohio like a prairie fire, had the popu 
lar Christian Lyre, edited by Joshua Leavitt, as a breeze to fan 
the flame, although he often forbade the singing of hymns in 
certain conditions in his meetings. William B. Bradbury, S. J. 
Vail, Robert Lowry, William H. Doane, Fanny Crosby, 
George F. Root, Philip Phillips, P. P. Bliss, and many others 
had written and taught the American people the songs that 
prepared the way for the Moody and Sankey revival move 
ment which so profoundly affected the religious life of both 
America and England and, through the missionaries, intensi 
fied the faith of the Christian Church throughout the world. 

Through all the centuries it has been the singing armies 
that have won the religious wars. The successful denomina 
tions and individual churches have been pre-eminently sing 
ing churches led by singing preachers who swayed their 
communities. Cardinal Newman is now chiefly remembered 
for his hymn, "Lead, Kindly Light." Washington Gladden, 
a great religious leader, will have his memory kept green by 
his hymn, "O Master, let me walk with Thee," and Bishop 
Phillips Brooks fifty years hence will be chiefly remembered 
for his Christmas carol, "O little town of Bethlehem." 

The Minister's Indifference. In view of the considerations 



and facts here marshaled, how strange is the general lack of 
interest among ministers toward their hymn service, toward 
the hymns themselves, their history, their meaning, the meth 
ods to be used in exploiting their great value. Is it saying too 
much to suggest that three out of five ministers have no 
adequate conception of the possibilities of hymn singing or 
appreciation of its value? 

Indifference of the Congregation. Outside of the lamentable 
weakness of egocentric human nature it is difficult to discover 
why the part of the divine service devoted to sacred song 
should be so utterly subordinated to the other parts of the 
sacred program; but that it is true is so evident to any reason 
able observer that it needs little or no proof. The janitor re 
ligiously postpones opening or shutting windows, or shaking 
down the furnace, during the prayer, or sermon even, until the 
hymn is being sung. Members of the congregation seize the 
opportunity to leave the room, or to consult with others about 
church affairs in all too audible voices. 

The hymn ought to be the consummate note of prayer and 
praise and devout meditation on sacred themes, the great co 
operative climax in the worship of God. It is too often looked 
upon as a merely physical stimulus to liven up the tedious 
service. 9 

This ought not so to be! For the primary object of assem 
bling the saints is united worship united praise. There can 
be no true public prayer without an element of worship; but 
it has a recognition of personal needs and even wants. This 
human factor makes it a composite of the human and the 
divine and lowers its dignity. In genuine praise there is a 
forgetfulness of the human element and 'a rising into the pure 
realm of the divine. In true praise the human soul is un 
conscious of self and utterly absorbed in God. 

Hence it is not too much to say that congregational song is 
the supreme element in all worship. 


-Chapter III- 



Its Character as a Transcript of Life. In so far as a hymn is a 
transcript of a genuine conviction, intensified by emotion, or 
of a profound experience, it is literature. There have gone 
into it vision, feeling, imagination, sincerity, intimate experi 
ence an appropriation of the influences life offers a soul that 
gazes upon it with wide-open eyes. It is not the measure or 
the rhyme that makes literature of a hymn. A bald formula 
tion in metrical form of doctrines dissected by metaphysical 
processes \ may be called a hymn by courtesy, but it is rrdt 
literature any more than would be a textbook on mathematics. 
But a hymn in which the hurried pulse and the throbbing 
heartbeat of deep human feeling can be felt is genuine litera 
ture, a revelation of human personality and of the collective 
life of which it is representative. It is the story of the experi 
ence of an exploring soul seeking knowledge of the deeper 
spiritual relations with God and his Kingdom. 1 
Its Wide Distribution. The importance of the hymn as litera 
ture is further attested by the response to it of the many gen 
erations which have made it the vehicle of their religious life. 
Dr. Reeves calls attention to the wide distribution of hymn- 
books; they have come from the printing press by the multi 
plied millions during the last four hundred years. Three 
millions of the Methodist Hymnal have been broadcast over 



the United States, sixty million Hymns Ancient and Modern 
over the British Empire. Hundreds of other contemporary 
hymnals, both official and unofficial, aggregate even more 
millions. If we add collections of Gospel Songs, we get many 
millions more. No other form of literature has had so wide 
a distribution. A single hymnal has had more active readers 
than all the poetry in the world, ancient and modern. 2 To 
dispose of an edition of one hundred thousand volumes of 
Palgrave's Golden Treasury, the standard collection of the 
poems of the ages approved by critics, would take a score of 
years. Moreover, they would go largely into libraries, private 
and public, for occasional reference. 

Its Acceptance Through Many Generations. But wideness of 
distribution is no final criterion of literary quality, else our 
newspapers might lay an earnest claim to literary standing. 
But these hymnals do not severally represent individual 
writers, as do most of the books of poetry; they contain a 
common body of hymns representing the major portion of 
all of them. That selection of hymns, fundamental to all of 
them, has been culled out from the great mass of sacred lyrics 
written through many centuries, by the consensus of different 
generations, of different backgrounds, of different grades of 
social and literary culture, of different peoples and even races, 
and accepted as the most complete expression of the funda 
mental Christian life of them all. If that unanimity of re 
sponsiveness and practical endorsement by continued use does 
not confer the accolade of literature upon that body of hymns, 
the accepted definition of literature is faulty and inadequate. 
Its Profound Influence. No other verses have been read so 
often. They have not only shaped the religious thought and 
experience of vast peoples and developed their character, but 
have affected their general modes of thought and forms of 
expression and influenced their secular literature. Without 
their rugged, ax-hewn version of the Psalms, would the 
Scotch have become the stem, dour, conscience-driven people 



the world has learned to know and value? Without the 
vigorous "spirituals" and the lively rhythms of its gospel 
songs, would the American church life have developed the 
freedom from ecclesiastical tradition and formalism, and the 
fearless aggressiveness that has lighted the beacons of salvation 
in every land ? The hymn has been the expression of life, and 
in turn has become the wellspring of life. 

Whatever of culture and refinement other forms of litera 
ture have brought has directly touched only a small minority, 
and but indirectly the great mass of civilized peoples; but the 
hymn has had a direct influence on the life and character of 
the mass of the people, and has appealed to their instincts and 
imaginations and shaped their ideals in the most immediate 
and striking way. Where one person has been refined and 
enriched in mind by the poetry of Milton, or Wordsworth, or 
Tennyson, a thousand have been comforted, inspired, and 
transformed by Sternhold and Hopkins, Watts, or Wesley. 

Archbishop Trench, the fault of whose hymns was chiefly 
that they were too few, was admonished by his friend, John 
Sterling, to give more attention to hymn-writing: "You would 
influence millions whom poetry in any other form would 
never reach." 


Due to Narrow Definition of Literature.. In spite of these 
facts that surely entitle the hymn to be considered literature in 
the most vital sense of the word, there are critics who look 
upon it with undisguised indifference, if not with scorn. Partly 
due to an utter lack of sympathy with the use of it, partly to an 
academic idea o what literature really is, emphasizing form 
and rhetorical interest, partly because its appeal is emotional 
and not mainly intellectual, these objectors are blind to the 
larger interests involved. If there is any truth in the insistence 
of some literary critics that there are few hymns that are 



good from a literary point of view, Montgomery's statement 
may give a sufficient reason: "Our good poets have seldom 
been Christians and our good Christians have seldom been 
good poets." 3 

Due to Failure to Realize Limitations of Hymns. A better 
reason is that such critics have seldom realized the limitations 
the singing hymn presents to the poet. Milton was a great 
poet, but he could not condense his ideas sufficiently or 
give them the needed terse expression. He needed a large 
canvas, while the successful hymn-writer is confined to a 
miniature. Even Tennyson, who succeeded in small lyrics, 
wrote only one hymn and that ill-adapted to actual congre- 
tional use. 

Palgrave, in the preface to his Treasury of Sacred Songs, 
compares secular and sacred verse as follows: "Secular verse 
covers many provinces: manners, incident, love, landscape, the 
vast sphere of drama in a word, all the many-colored ro 
mance of life. Sacred verse can hardly go beyond one prov 
ince: to expect masterpieces in one field approximately 
numerous as those in the secular lyric is unreasonable. Even 
more unreasonable is it, when of this single province a district 
only is chosen for censure, and treated as the whole domain. 
Hymns, well-nigh limited to the functions of prayer and 
praise, are precisely that region in which a practical aim is 
naturally, almost inevitably, predominant!" 
Some Critics and Their Criticism. Dr. Samuel Johnson's 
criticism of hymns may be brushed aside as based on a wrong 
conception of poetry, which to his mind called not for sim 
plicity, but for something near to that artificiality which he 
conceived of as art: "Contemplative piety, or the intercourse 
between God and the human soul, cannot be poetical." . . . 
"The paucity of its topics enforces perpetual repetition, and 
the sanctity of its matter rejects the ornament of figurative 

In mitigation of the false judgment of the old literary 



dictator, it may be said that the golden age of English 
hymnody had not yet arrived. 

The later criticism o the hymn by Matthew Arnold repre 
sents more fully the attitude of the literary critic in our own 
day. The practical aspects of life were not ignored by him, 
but they did not bulk large in his mind. Hence it is not sur 
prising that, while he fully comprehended the wide influence 
of the hymn, he had little or no sympathy with its spirit and 
even less with its purpose, so that he could write about it 
after this fashion: "Hymns, such as I know them, are a sort 
of composition which I do not at all admire. ... I regret their 
prevalence and popularity among us/' Could anti-religious 
rationalism go further? 

Among more recent critics, Edmund Clarence Stedman 
speaks of the hymn as "the kind of verse which is, of all, 
the most common and indispensable." But Professor Boyn- 
ton in the Cambridge History of American Literature, gives 
as much space to "Yankee Doodle" as he does to American 
Hymnody and refers to its "sentimental ornateness," "tawdry 
sentimentalism," and "banalities of evangelistic song," uncon 
sciously drawing an unhappy portrait of his own spiritual 
condition. 4 

The older criticism of the hymn had at least the merit of 
thoughtfulness and serious consideration of its value and of 
its shortcomings. 

The hymns that would have satisfied literary critics would 
have required a spiritual delicacy and refinement, an elegance 
and artistry of phrase, a vagueness of religious idea devoid of 
genuine feeling, that would shut them out from use in the 
workaday world in which we live. To set aside the "good 
and useful purpose" acknowledged by Matthew Arnold in 
the consideration of the hymn is to ignore its whole reason for 
being, and, what is vastly more important, to ignore the deep 
est needs of the human soul. 



The Handicap of Thought and Diction. Alfred Tennyson 
clearly recognized the limitations that handicap the writer of 
hymns. "A good hymn is the most difficult thing in the 
world to write!" The hymn he did write, "Sunset and 
Evening Star/' beautiful as it is, failed in practicability for 
congregational use. Its unfitness for mass singing in its vari 
ous phases is the chief stumblingblock. 

The hymn writer finds in the limitations, which he must 
bear in mind as he writes, no small hindrance to spontaneity 
and poetic vision. He must limit the thought not only to 
the comprehension, but to the natural feelings of the people 
who are to sing what he writes. He must not use unusual 
or polysyllabic words. Striking figures, startling tropes, in 
volved similes, obscure metaphors, allusions to things known 
by but few, descriptive or dramatic lines, are all forbidden. 
Every verse, whether in single or double meter, must be com 
plete in itself, whatever its relation in thought to what pre 
cedes or follows. There must be unity, simplicity, condensa 
tion of thought, and yet a clearness that shuts out involved 
thought or mysticism that cannot be instantly grasped. The 
hymn writer is like a violinist called upon to play on a single 
string. 5 

Thomas Hornblower Gill, an English hymn writer who is 
slowly gaining recognition in current hymnals The Revised 
Presbyterian Hymnal has five of his hymns gives his con 
ception of what hymns should be, in his preface to his first 
volume, issued in 1868. He insists that the true hymn is a 
true poem in every case, while it is debarred from liberties 
of luxuriance which may be claimed by other poetry, "It 
may easily be too figurative; it cannot be too glowing or 
imaginative. . . . They should exhibit all the qualities of a 
good song liveliness and intensity of feeling, directness, clear 
ness and vividness of utterance, strength, sweetness, and sim- 



plicity and melody of rhythm: excessive subtlety and excessive 
ornament should be alike avoided." 

The Handicap of Meter. Not the slightest handicap is the 
necessity of choosing a form o stanza that will at the same 
time fit the writer's sentiment and be adapated to singable 
tunes known to the congregations which are to be lyrically 
served. This range of form is quite limited. Most of these 
tunes call for iambic or trochaic measure., because anapaestic 
or dactylic numbers lack the dignity and the impressiveness 
necessary for general hymns. 

The form of the stanza may take the elevated, heavy "Long" 
Meter, the more widely expressive "Common" Meter, the 
sententious "Short" Meter, "Sevens and Sixes/' "Eights and 
Sevens," plain "Sevens" or "Sixes," or the more lively "Sixes 
and Fours" or "Sixes and Fives." 6 

These different meters have very marked characteristics. It 
is really marvelous how the instinct of true hymn writers in 
all generations has unconsciously, or at most subconsciously, 
taken account of them and with practical unanimity ob 
served them. 

The Long Meter is stately and dignified. It is the fit 
expression of noble praise like the Long Meter Doxology, 
"Lord of all being, throned afar," "From all that dwell below 
the skies," "Before Jehovah's awful throne," or elevated senti 
ment like "God is the refuge of His saints," "When I survey 
the wondrous cross," and " 'Tis midnight, and on Olive's 
brow." Its long, even lines, broken by no strong stops, afford 
a smooth, graceful expression for general truths and Christian 
doctrine in poetic form, such as "O Jesus, our chief corner 
stone," "Jesus shall reign where'er the sun," and "O Love! 
how deep, how broad, how high!" 

The Common Meter is much more varied in its possibili 
ties of expression, as its unequal lines and alternate rhymes 
give greater freedom. It i$ the prevailing meter of the old 
English ballad. It is really the most adaptable and pliable 



form of stanza open to the hymn writer, giving equal oppor 
tunity of expression to all emotions and classes of truth. It is a 
fit vehicle alike for the elevated praise of "All hail the power of 
Jesus' name," the majesty of "I sing th' almighty pow'r of 
God," the doctrinal statement of "There is a fountain filled 
with blood," the tenderness of "Jesus, the very thought of 
Thee," the vigor of "Awake, my soul, stretch every nerve," 
and the quiet resignation of "Father, whate'er of earthly bliss." 
On account of this adaptability it has become the Common 
Meter in fact as well as in name. Its exclusive use in some 
of the collections of metrical psalms shut out the use of tunes 
in other meters and so led to the singing of only a few of 
the more popular Common Meter tunes; the result was that 
the congregational singing in the churches in England, Scot 
land, and America was nearly wrecked. 

S. M. might stand for sententious meter as well as for 
Short Meter, as the two short lines and the long pauses at the 
end of each of them give it an emphatic, terse, even epigram 
matic style. This may be seen in "My soul, be on thy guard," 
"Welcome, sweet day of rest," "Stand up and bless the Lord," 
"Crown Him with many crowns," and "Come, Holy Spirit, 
come." John Fawcett was not happy in the selection of this 
meter for his otherwise very ufseful and precious hymn, "Blest 
be the tie that binds," as the strong pause at the end of the 
first line in all but one of his stanzas cuts his sentences in 
two and makes the hymn alike difficult to read and sing. 
The same difficulty will be found in the reading of other 
hymns in this meter, the limitations of which have not al 
ways been recognized by writers using it. It would be a 
very slow, heavy meter did not the longer third line give it 
needed movement. 

The meter known as 6s lacks the longer third line and is 
therefore peculiarly grave and disjointed. It is well adapted 
for hymns of passive faith or resignation, such as "My Jesus, 
as Thou wilt," "Thy way, not mine, O Lord," or for dolorous 



prayers like "My spirit longs for Thee," and "I hunger and 
I thirst." 

The meter 6s and 4s in its various forms might be supposed 
to be even slower than the 6s because of the additional short 
lines of four syllables each. The opposite is true. In some 
cases the first four lines are rhythmically equivalent to two 
lines of ten syllables each, so slight is the pause of actual 
thought at the end of the six-syllable line, with the result 
that the slowness is quickened into simple dignity and eleva 
tion. But even where the pauses at the end of die first and 
third lines are long, the shorter second and fourth lines, as in 
common meter, give added movement. In the other form of 
6s and 4s, the first two six-syllable lines are so knit together 
by their common rhyme and, if properly written, have so 
markedly a common goal of completeness of thought in the 
third line toward which they hurry that again the movement 
is hastened and the severity of the 6s is mitigated. The same 
principle applies to the following three or four lines, depend 
ing on the form examined. Hence we have in the various 
forms of this meter some of our noblest hymns of prayer, 
praise, and victory, such as "Nearer, my God, to Thee," "More 
love to Thee, O Christ," "We are but strangers here," "Fade, 
fade, each earthly joy," "My faith looks up to Thee," "Rise, 
glorious Conqueror, rise," "Come, Thou Almighty King," and 
"My country, 'tis of thee." 


Literary Quality Not the Supreme Consideration. Although 
poetical feeling and imagination and nice literary craftsman 
ship are not to be undervalued, but rather to be earnestly 
sought for in our hymns, after all, they are not the supreme 
considerations. Practical use has proved many hymns that 
conspicuously lacked them to have been supremely useful be 
cause of their spiritual content, sincerely and lucidly expressed, 



When hymn writers like Watts and Newton have deliberately 
ignored and even avoided literary values, and yet have written 
among the most useful hymns in our collections, the critic 
who insists on poetical quality has by no means a prima fade 
case. Charles Wesley was a poet, but in his valuable hymn 
"A charge to keep I have" he is a pedagogue without poetic 
afflatus. Standards of literary value, when not artificial, as in 
Samuel Johnson's case, have their place, but a place that is 
modest and not supreme. 

Literary Quality Should Be Subconscious. The danger in un 
duly emphasizing the literary aspect of hymns is well ex 
pressed by Dr. Louis F. Benson: "The hazard is implicit in 
the very motive of hymn singing; the heightening of religious 
emotion. The danger is of mistaking sugary sentiment for 
true feeling and its rhetorical expression in 'soft, luxurious 
flow' for true poetry." In other words, the conscious seeking 
of the hymn writer after literary atmosphere and skill of 
treatment is fatal to genuineness of feeling, and to his success 
in producing a true hymn. 

It will do no harm to iterate here that the two essentials 
to a successful hymn are spirituality and the power to express 
it so as to reach the understanding as well as the hearts of 
the people who are to sing. According to Paul, the first com 
mandment in hymn writing and singing is: "I will sing with 
the spirit"; the second is like unto it: "I will sing with the 
understanding also." 





Early Changes. The question of changes made in hymns by 
others than their writers deserves consideration. The point is 
not that the individual preacher is supposed to air his critical 
skill, but that he should understand why changes have been 
made by hymnal editors and better appreciate the principles 
involved and the literary niceties that are to be observed. 

In the first compilations of hymnbooks, the rights of the 
authors o the individual hymns were entirely below the 
horizon. Many hymns were published without the names of 
their writers. To this day Charles Wesley's claim to "J esus > 
Lover of My Soul," as against that of his brother John, de 
pends wholly on considerations of style and form of stanza. 
There is not even a well-founded tradition. 

It was the adaptation of the hymn to immediate actual 
needs that counted, not the writer. There was no moral 
copyright, much less legal, to stay the hand of the niutilator. 

Watts did not hesitate to incorporate in his hymns lines and 
even whole stanzas from the hymns of others. John Wesley 
had no scruples in rewriting lines and stanzas and even 
whole hymns already in print. Toplady's alterations were 
often quite radical, as, for example, his drastic revision of 
Charles Wesley's "Blow ye the trumpet, blow" 1 to suit his 
intensely Calvinistic views. 



The Abuse of the Editorial Revision. Dr. Worcester, in this 
country, who issued several collections of psalms and hymns, 
chiefly by Watts, was lavish in his alterations, mostly for the 
worse so much so that the New England churches revolted. 
Lord Selborne said of these mutilations by many hands, 
"There is just enough of Watts left here to remind one of 
Horace's saying that 'you may know the remains of a poet 
even when he is torn to pieces.' " 

The needless alteration of hymns that occurred in these 
early days is to be greatly deplored, especially of those most 
widely known. "Rock of Ages" and "Jesus, Lover of My 
Soul" were fair targets for the editorial spear out of the 
twenty-four lines of the former only eleven have escaped 
change. The line "When mine eyestrings break in death" was 
the only one peremptorily demanding a change, although a 
few other alterations may be accepted as slight improvements, 
as, for instance, "wounded" instead of "riven" side. So many 
people have committed this hymn with its differing lines to 
memory that when it is sung there is frequently the clash of 
these variations instead of the desirable uniformity of utter 

The same is true of Wesley's hymn. In spite of John Wes 
ley's warning against changes in the Methodist hymns 
"Hymn-cobblers should not try to mend them. I really do 
not think they are able" more than thirty variations occur in 
the first stanza of "Jesus, Lover of My Soul." 

The pity is that while uniformity is extremely desirable in 
these and many other hymns, it is now out of the question. 
The several variations have their partisan upholders. 

James Montgomery spent years of his life amending and 
modifying the hymns of others, but asked that others should 
not change his verses. He insisted that if good people could 
not conscientiously adopt his doctrines and diction, it was a 
little questionable in them to impose theirs on him* 

It is interesting to note that Montgomery could not "con- 



scientiously adopt the doctrine and diction" of the first verse 
of Cowper's "There is a fountain filled with blood" and sub 
stituted a verse of his own of which he said, "I think my 
version is unexceptionable." But hymnal editors did not find 
it so and unanimously repudiated it. It was regarded as 
"faultily faultless, icily regular, splendidly null." 
The Return to Originals. This abuse of the editorial revision 
produced a reaction, and in the last half century, under the 
leadership of Dr. Louis F. Benson, a strong movement ap 
peared among hymnal editors whose slogan was "Back to the 
originals!" In many cases that was not practicable, as the 
changes made were evident improvements, but the new ten 
dency often proved to be a very useful one in restoring many 
a good original phrase in place of a much inferior alteration. 


The Rights of the Original Writer. There are some principles 
of equity that lie upon the surface. The writer of hymns 
has rights that must be recognized. His name should be 
given as its author. No name other than his own should be 
connected with the product of his pen. Unless there are 
sufficient reasons, the hymn should be given as he wrote it. 
If his name is given, no doctrine or experience should be 
interpolated. In business affairs that would be adjudged 
forgery in the second degree. If interpolations or changes of 
ideas become necessary for practical reasons, due notice should 
be given that the original writer is not responsible for the 
new ideas or the changes of phraseology. Unitarian hymnal 
editors have not always recognized this obligation. Our re 
cent well-edited hymnals have been scrupulous in this par 

The Limits of the Author's Rights. But there are distinct 
limits to the author's rights. If the hymnal were a merely 
literary compilation, the liberty to make changes would not 



be admissible. But the hymnal is not an anthology; it is a 
collection o hymns for a definite and practical purpose of an 
exalted character to aid congregations in the worship of God 
and in the realization of the spiritual aims he has set before 
them* That purpose has the right of eminent domain. If the 
original hymn has faulty lines or weak verses that jeopardize 
its otherwise practical effectiveness, competent editors of col 
lections of hymns for congregational use have the right to 
amend, or condense, and so add to its usefulness in the work 
of the church, in so far as it does not affect the general spirit 
and tenor of the original. Isaac Watts recognized this prin 
ciple, saying, "Where an unpleasing word is found, he that 
leads the worship may substitute a better one." Indeed, in 
1737, he acknowledged that "Many a line needs the file to 
polish the roughness of it and many a thought wants richer 
language to adorn and make it shinebut I have at present 
neither inclination nor leisure to correct and I hope I never 


Loss of Original Writer's Vision. It has been strongly urged 
that the emendation of hymns is dangerous to their quality; 
that the original writer was a better judge of both thought 
and phrasing than the cold critic whose very attitude prevents 
the high feeling that must inspire the most appealing forms 
of expression. 

But the protest overlooks the fact that the very fervor and 
urge of fresh vision and its consequent emotion may prevent 
attention to nice details of phraseology or even to the proper 
balance of parts of a hymn. Furthermore, the writer with 
the creative urge may lack the critical faculty and fine dis 
crimination necessary to polish up his verses after the impulse 
of writing has spent its force. 

This being true, the editor who supplies the wanting critical 
attitude shows no presumption, provided his vision is clear 



and his skill in supplying more accurate, more melodious, or 
more practical phraseology adds value to the hymn. Martin 
Madan was no hymn writer, but when he rewrote Watts' 

"He dies, the Heavenly Lover dies! 

The tidings strike the doleful sound 
On my poor heartstrings; deep he lies 
In the cold caverns of the ground," 

and gave us the noble stanza, 

"He dies, the Friend of sinners, dies; 

Lo! Salem's daughters weep around; 
A solemn darkness veils the skies, 
A sudden trembling shakes the ground," 

he not only gave it a dignified and Biblical content and form, 
but he rescued the hymn for the spiritual edification of coming 

Biblical Precedent. There is plenty of Biblical precedent. The 
original compiler and editor of the Psalms, be he Asaph or 
Ezra, inserted a version of the eighteenth psalm differing from 
the original as found in the twenty-second chapter of Second 
Samuel. It cannot escape the most casual reader of the New 
Testament that its quotations from the Old Testament, 
whether poetical or prose, are by no means accurately repro 
duced. Moreover, the writers of psalm versions from Marot 
and Luther down to Watts did not hesitate to condense, alter, 
or interpolate new ideas in their transcriptions of the sacred 
originals. They had no sense of presumption; their minds 
were preoccupied with the practical ends they were trying to 


It may be instructive to study more in detail the occasions for 
changes made in our hymns and learn the justification for 



many of them. If some of them seem somewhat microscopic 
and even captious, none the less they make for exactness, for 
nice discrimination, and for more intelligent appreciation of 
the literary and spiritual values of our magnificent body of 
hymns." 2 

The Omission of Verses. A very important change from the 
original of many hymns is the omission of some of the less 
valuable stanzas, or even a condensation of some of them by 
omitting unattractive lines. 

"Oh for a thousand tongues to sing/' the fine hymn that 
opens all but recent Methodist hymnals, originally began, 
"Glory to God and praise and love," and had eighteen 
stanzas. The hymn as now used consists of stanzas 7 to 12 of 
the original. Some hymnals omit stanza 10. 

In the Trinity hymn sometimes ascribed to Charles Wesley, 
"Come, Thou Almighty King,' 5 the second of the original five 
stanzas is always omitted: 

"Jesus, our Lord, arise, 
Scatter our enemies, 

And make them fall; 
Let thine almighty aid 
Our sure defense be made. 
Our souls on thee be stayed; 

Lord, hear our call." 

The evident imitation of the second stanza of the British 
National anthem is too obvious : 

"O Lord, our God, arise, 
Scatter his enemies, 

And make them fall. 
Frustrate their knavish tricks, 
Confound their politics, 
On Him our hearts we fix; 

God save the King." 

In Bishop Brooks* original of "O little town of Bethlehem," 


so widely known and used, the fourth stanza is omitted: 

"Where children, pure and happy, 

Pray to the Blessed Child; 
Where misery cries out to thee, 

Son of the Mother mild; 
Where charity stands watching, 

And faith holds wide the door, 
The dark night wakes, the glory breaks, 

And Christmas comes once more." 

The reasons are not far to seek: the double rhyme in the 
third line is so forced as to be awkward; the first two lines 
refer to Jesus in the third person, but the next two in the sec 
ond; more important still, the stanza does not make a sufficient 
addition to the value of the hymn to warrant the added length. 
The stanza, 

"Thy body slain, sweet Jesus, thine, 

And bathed in its own blood, 
While all exposed to wrath divine, 
The glorious sufF rer stood," 

if retained, despite its medieval picture of our suffering Lord, 
would have added nothing to Watts* noble hymn, "Alas! and 
did my Saviour bleed," but rather would have hemmed the 
progress of its thought and feeling. 

Few of the lovers of Robinson's classic hymn, "Come, Thou 
Fount of every blessing," would have enjoyed singing and 
visualizing the omitted fourth stanza, 

"O that day when freed from sinning, 

I shall see thy lovely face! 
Richly clothed in blood-washed linen, 
How I'll sing thy sovereign grace!" 

A stanza was omitted from a hymn by Isaac Watts by Dr. 
Worcester, and he was compelled by public sentiment to re 
place it in his next collection. Who was right Dr. Wor 
cester, or Watts and the church public? 



"But while I bled and groaned and died, 

I ruined Satan's Throne; 
High on my cross I hung and spy'd 
The monster tumbling down." 

What a travesty in this stanza of Christ's words, "I beheld 
Satan as lightning fall from heaven"! 

The omission of all the older hymns regarding "the state of 
the unpenitent dead" in our more recent hymnals is due to 
their usually rather lurid expressions, going beyond those of 
the Scriptures, to the reaction in the church at large against 
the rather mechanical and heartless emphasis of the painful 
doctrine not only in hymns, but in sermons as well and 
also to the realization that it is not a theme fitted for singing. 

What modern congregation could sing Watts' stanza formu 
lating the doctrine, 

"Up to the courts where angels dwell, 

It [the soul] mounts triumphant there; 
Or devils plunge it down to hell 
In infinite despair"? 

When we come to the hymns constructed by selecting stan 
zas from long poems e.g., by John Keble or by John Green- 
leaf Whittier we reach marvels of skill in selection and 
co-ordination that have greatly enriched English hymnody. 
Reconstructing and Rewriting Faulty Hymns. John Wesley 
inveighed against "hymn-cobblers," but he was a most efficient 
and skillful "hymn-cobbler" himself. He deserves high com 
mendation for his literary skill and taste in cutting the rough 
diamonds that passed through his editorial hands. A few 
instances will illustrate his success. 

"Before Jehovah's awful throne" is recognized as one of 
Watts' noblest hymns of worship. But it is Wesley's recon 
struction that brought out its essential nobility. 

Watts began it in rather mechanical fashion, 

"Sing to the Lord with joyful voice, 
Let every land his name adore; 



The British Isles shall send the noise 
Across the ocean to the shore." 

Wesley omitted this stanza entirely. Beginning with the 
second stanza, 

"With gladness bow before his throne, 
And let his presence raise your joys; 
Know that the Lord is God alone 

And formed our soul and framed our voice'* 

(which shows that Watts' inspiration had begun to rise), 
Wesley transformed it into a majestic expression of pure wo* 

"Before Jehovah's awful throne. 

Ye nations, bow with sacred joy; 
Know that the Lord is God alone, 
He can create and he destroy." 

He was equally successful with Watts' third stanza: 

"Infinite power, without our aid, 

Figured our clay to human mould; 
And when our wandering feet had strayed, 
He brought us to his sacred fold." 

The first line is faulty : the accent of "infinite" is on the first 
syllable: Watts placed it on the second. The second line 
conveys no clear idea: how is clay "figured"? The third and 
fourth lines are bald and ordinary, lacking in poetic grace. 
See how deftly Wesley took Watts' material and gave it grace 
and dignity: 

"His sovereign power, without our aid, 
Made us of clay and formed us men; 
And when like wand'ring sheep we strayed, 
He brought us to his fold again." 

Transforming Watts' fourth stanza in like manner, he added 
a majestic fifth stanza of his own: 



"Wide as the world is thy command, 

Vast as eternity thy love; 
Firm as a rock thy truth shall stand 

When rolling years shall cease to move," 

completing one of the noblest hymns in the language. 

Another hymn of Isaac Watts was enriched by passing 
through the hands of John Wesley. Besides correcting minor 
infelicities and curtailing its impracticable length, he rewrote 
the third stanza of the very popular hymn, "Come, ye that 
love the Lord," transforming Watts' 

"The God that rules on high 

And thunders when he please, 
That rides upon the stormy sky 
And manages the seas," 


"The God that rules on high, 
That all the earth surveys, 
That rides upon the stormy sky 
And calms the roaring seas." 

He might have gone further and obviated the break of the 
sentence occurring between the third and fourth stanzas. 
Some hymnal editors meet the difficulty by omitting both. 

Rev. Martin Madan wrote no hymns; his only claim to 
immortality rests on his emendations of the hymns of greater 
men. But he well deserves to be remembered for some of 
his happy improvements of important hymns. His revision of 
Watts' hymn "He dies! the Heavenly Lover dies!" has already 
been referred to. 

Madan very fortunately changed Charles Wesley's 

"Hark how all the welkin rings, 
Glory to the King of Kings," 

into the much more poetical lines : 



"Hark! the herald angels sing, 
'Glory to the newborn King.' " 

Minor Felicitous Changes. No small improvement In our 
hymns consists of the change of Individual phrases because of 
misplaced accents, unfortunate consonantal combinations, 
inept metaphors, and phrases that are secular in spirit and 

In Cowper's "Jesus, where'er thy people meet," the second 
line had the word "inhabitest," difficult to sing; it was 
changed to "Dost dwell with those." 

In Bishop Ken's "Evening Hymn" some bad cases of wrong 
accents have been corrected. "Under thy own almighty 
wings" now is "Beneath the shadow of thy wings," and 
"Triumphing rise at the last day" is become "Rise glorious 
at the judgment day." 

Isaac Watts' theory that hymns should eschew poetic grace 
was carried too far into euphonic slovenliness. In "Wel 
come, sweet day of rest" he wrote "One day amidst the 
place," ignoring the fact that "amidst" is not singable. "One 
day in such a place" is much more suave. In "Joy to the 
world! The Lord is come!" he wrote in the first line of 
stanza three "let sins and sorrows grow"; the excessive 
sibilation has been removed by using singular nouns. 

In Charles Wesley's very useful hymn, "Ye servants of God, 
your Master proclaim," "The praises of Jesus" is substituted 
for "Our Jesus' praises," distributing the hissing s's more 
musically. The second and third stanzas are wisely omitted; 
few congregations could sing, with the solemnity the rest of the 
hymn calls for, such lines as 

"When devils engage, the billows arise, 
And horribly rage and threaten the skies." 

Charles Wesley in his hymn, "Jesus, let thy pitying eye," 
had a very realistic vision of the crucifixion and wrote "My 



Saviour gasped, 'Forgive P" which for singing purposes was 
well emended to "prayed." How did it escape the eagle eye 
of his brother John? Or did the influence of the Moravians, 
who were fond of these physical touches in writing of the 
crucifixion, affect both the Wesleys? 

The 'Trotestant Te Deum," "All hail the power of Jesus* 
name," has fared well or ill, according to the point of view 
at the hands of "hymn-tinkers." Revisers have omitted 

"Let highborn seraphs tune the lyre 

And, as they tune it, fall 
Before His face who tunes their choir, 
And crown him Lord of all." 

They have transformed the stanza, 

"Let every tribe and every tongue 

That bound creation's call 

Now shout in universal song 

The crowned Lord of all," 

into the nobler stanza, 

"Let every kindred, every tribe 

On this terrestrial ball, 
To him all majesty ascribe, 
And crown him Lord of all.' 1 

Omitting one or two more stanzas. Dr. John Rippon has 
added a last stanza that puts a fitting climax to die whole 

"Oh, that, with yonder sacred throng, 

We at his feet may fall! 
We'll join the everlasting song, 
And crown him Lord of all/* 

Edward Mote began his widely-used hymn, "My hope is 
built on nothing less," with a "stumble on the threshold," 
writing "Nor earth nor hell my soul shall move," a very 



unintelligent plunging in medias res. Was it Bradbury, who 
wrote the popular and effective tune that gave the hymn 
wings, that had the happy impulse to combine parts of the 
first and second stanzas, using the first two lines of the second 
stanza and the last two of the first? This gave an arresting 
first line and eliminated a line impossible to put on the lips 
of a general congregation, "Midst all the hell I feel within." 

The very familiar and useful hymn of George Heath, "My 
soul, be on thy guard," is a notable example of the value of 
a competent editor's emendations. In stanza three Heath 

"Ne'er think the vict'ry won, 

Nor once at ease sit down; 
Thy arduous worJ^ will not be done 
Till thou hast got thy crown.*' 

Again in the fourth stanza he wrote, 

"Fight on, my soul, till death. 

God will thy work applaud. 
Reveal his love at thy last breath, 
And take to his abode.'* 

The improvement in both stanzas, as found in our hymnals, 
is obvious at a glance. 

Even so finished a poet as the distinguished historian 
Milman disfigured his noble Palm Sunday hymn, "Ride on, 
ride on in majesty," by such a line as "Thine humble beast 
pursues its road," which Murray changed to the graceful and 
appealing line, "Saviour meek, pursue thy road." 

Space is wanting to exhaust the various changes in hymns 
that are amply justified if their most effective use is to be se 
cured. It is sufficient to say that changes of text must increase 
the perspicuity, precision, propriety, and force o the hymn. 
Single phrases may wisely be modified if a change corrects 
a wrong accent, makes a line more euphonious, adds to its 
vividness, expressiveness, or vigor, increases its dignity, clari 
fies the sense, or better adapts it to public use. 


-Chapter V~ 


THE hymn Is not an independent entity, sufficient unto itself, 
whose whole purpose is to be beautiful and to give pleasure to 
those responsive to its charm. The hymn has a definite mes 
sage, is big with purpose. 

It is rekted to its writer in satisfying the urge for ex 
pression of ideas that will give him power over the thoughts 
and feelings of others, or of emotions that demand to be 
voiced forth in the mystic expressiveness of rhythm and 

It is related to God as the original source of its impulse and 
as the recipient of its response in love and praise. 

It is related to the church in the aid it affords to its col 
lective life and to the reader or singer whose spirituality is to 
be inspired, developed, and expressed. 

It is the content expressing these several relations and 
purposes that separates the hymn from purely literary ideals 
and criticisms. 


Thanksgiving. The first impulse is a recognition of the 
blessings and privileges that God bestows upon his creatures 
in general and upon the writer and the singer in particular. 
There is consciousness of self in this expression of gratitude. 
The soul still has its feet upon the ground. 



There Is nothing unworthy In this recognition of self as the 
recipient of God's favor, for the soul honors God in its 
realization of its dependence on him and in its clear vision 
of the source of its blessedness. Indeed, God asks it as his due. 
Prayer for Future Blessing. The cynic who declares that 
gratitude is usually tinctured with the hope of favors to come 
may not properly represent the soul as it gives thanks to God, 
but there is a kinship between thanksgiving and prayer that 
makes it easy and logical to pass from the one to the other. 
The memory of benefits received inevitably suggests needs yet 
to be supplied. 

In its relation to God the hymn may well be a vehicle for 
the prayer that envisages the spiritual lack that God alone 
can supply, and vitalizes the recognition with a desirous ur 
gency that must characterize true prayer. 

Here again we find not only divine authority, but en 
couragement and assurance. Whether the hymn is an in 
dividual or a collective prayer matters not. The individual 
need is also a need common to all petitioners, and the prayer 
by a congregation is still the individual prayer of its units, only 
intensified objectively toward God and subjectively toward 
the singers by its mass expression. This intensification is 
multiplied not arithmetically but geometrically. 
Adoration. The hymn of adoration lifts the soul into a higher 
plane, into a contemplation of the glory and majesty of the 
infinite perfections of its God in which self is forgotten and 
a consciousness of the infinitude -of divine beauty, nobility, 
and spiritual elevation remains to thrill the soul. It rises on 
wings of selfless delight and rejoicing in God into a very 
ecstasy that only song can express. 

Whether the soul stands on some high peak of earth and 
surveys the billowing world that stretches far and wide with 
its beetling cliffs and rocky headlands, its forests and fields, 
its meadows and orchards, filled with the overwhelming mys 
tery of life and force obeying implicitly the laws formulated 



only in Inherent nature; or gazes into the great vault of the 
sky, with the silent majesty of circling stars and developing 
universes, it will find the anonymous hymn of more than a 
century ago voicing its deepest awe, its noblest joy : 

"Praise the Lord! ye heavens adore him, 

Praise him, angels in the height; 

Sun and moon rejoice before him, 

Praise him, all ye stars of light." 

When the soul on some mountaintop of inner experience and 
vision glimpses something of the sublimity of the divine char 
acter, its justice, its truth, its purity, its invincible power and 
will guided by infinite knowledge and wisdom, its boundless 
mercy and forgiving grace flowing from the eternal Source of 
its all-embracing love, again it can adopt as its very own the 
solemn notes of Tersteegen, echoed in English by John Wes 

"Lo! God is here; let us adore 

And own how dreadful is this place; 
Let all within us feel his power, 

And humbly bow before his face." 

This is the highest office of the hymn and should be made its 
largest use; in no other way can the minds and hearts of 
Christian worshipers be filled and thrilled with a conscious 
ness of an indwelling God as by hymns of praise, fully com 
prehended and sung with unflawed sincerity. 
The Hymn of Communion. Beyond the hymn of exultant 
praise is the hymn of communion with God, where the soul 
expresses its joy, not simply^in the objective glories of the 
divine nature, but in actual communion, companionship, and 
conscious unity with God in desire, ideals, and purposes. The 
soul thinks the thoughts of God, delights in what God ap 
proves, walks in his ways with spontaneous gkdaess, and 
lives in absolute harmony with his will, not mechanically 
under a stress of duty, but by urge of the deepest depths of 



the soul. Objective praise may pull out all the stops of the 
soul's enthusiasm and the high imaginings of the spirit, but 
the hymn o communion may express itself in tenderness and 
sweetness, in upwelling love and quiet affection. It often is 
a personal rather than a collective hymn. 


The Hymn of Emotion. Given a definite emotion based on 
realization of some religious truth, man will urgently call for 
some expression of it, directly by speaking or writing, or by 
means of some provided method. 1 Christians are stimulated 
by being impressed by the experiences of others. There is a 
blessed contagion in these expressions of the profound ex 
periences of the saints of God as found in the hymnbooks of 
all our churches. One feels the accelerated spiritual heartbeat 
as one reads (or, better yet, sings) Watts' emotional cry as he 
stands before the cross of Christ: 

"When I survey the wondrous cross 

On which the Prince of glory died, 
My richest gain I count but loss 
And pour contempt on all my pride." 

Who can fail to follow him in his final consecration, 

"Love so amazing, so divine, 
Demands my soul, my life, my all"? 

Medley's hymn, "Oh, could I speak the matchless worth," in 
not a single phrase directly addresses the Deity. It is a purely 
subjective expression of delight in the Lord Jesus Christ; and 
yet how impressive, how delightful, how eminently worthy of 
the feelings of any great congregation, is this hymn of Chris 
tian joy. 

The hymn of emotion, therefore, supplies the soul's demand, 
for it satisfies the instinct for expression. It clarifies the 
intellectual basis of the emotion and in so doing intensifies it. 



The collective singing and mass expression of a common 
emotion intensify it still further and fit it more fully to aflfect 
the will and the character, and so give permanence to the 
influence of the truth underlying the feeling. Where at the 
beginning the truth is but dimly perceived and passively ac 
cepted, the resulting shallow feeling will be deepened. In this 
way the hymn becomes a very generator of desirable religious 

The Hymn of Inspiration. It follows that the hymn may be a 
means of stimulating interest and enthusiasm in connection 
with a topic or proposed course of action, and may become 
the hymn of inspiration. Any line of thought or method of 
presentation appealing to any emotion or impulse that creates 
courage, hopefulness, confidence, assurance of success, will be 
pertinent and desirable. The intenser element of direct ex 
hortation may be added, making a hortative hymn of one 
of mere inspiration. 

The Hymn of Personal Experience. The hymn of personal 
experience differs from that of emotional expression in being 
more subjective, more analytical of the effect produced on the 
mind by the apprehension of the religious truth. The latter 
is based on the realization of some objective truth or doctrine, 
while the hymn of personal experience emphasizes the inner 
experience in prayer, in specific exercise of faith, in a reaction 
of the soul to some accomplished task, or to a season of com 
munion with God. The hymn of the blind poet, George 
Matheson, which has been so widely used, 

"O Love that wilt not let me go, 
I rest my weary soul on Thee," 

is distinctly a hymn of Christian experience; while Isaac 
Watts gives poignant expression to the emotions of the Chris 
tian, as he contemplates the sufferings and death of Jesus 
Christ, borne to atone for his sins, 



"Alas! and did my Saviour bleed? 

And did my Sovereign die? 
Would he devote that sacred head 
For sinners such as I!" 

The hymn of personal experience has been rather heatedly 
objected to by critics like Bishop Wordsworth. In some cases 
these "I and My" hymns have been rewritten to meet the 

These critics who find their own "ego" offended by the 
apparent emphasis of the hymn writer's "ego" forget some 
rather important factors in the situation. 

1. It would have been rather presumptuous on the part of 
the writer to speak for the collective "We" and "Us" who 
presumably were to sing his verses. 

2. As a spontaneous expression of personal experience, the 
hymn had to be individualistic. Not often, if ever, are par 
ticular religious experiences common to a body of believers at 
a given moment. 

3. The high peaks of religious experience which are most 
valuable as furnishing ideals and stimulus to the members of 
a singing congregation can be reached only by individuals, not 
by a mass of people. To restrict the expression of religious 
experience to that common to all Christians, would be to omit 
the most inspiring and helpful hymns, and keep our song 
service at a dead level of inferior value. 

4. It must not be forgotten that it is not the congregation 
that sings; it is its individual units! The congregation is an 
abstraction, a merely mental conception. The singing of each 
member is fundamentally as purely individual as if he were 
absolutely alone! Hence the "I and My" hymn is entirely 
fitting. Each sings what is, or ought to be, his own individual 
experience. Indeed, he makes his best contribution to the 
collective effect if he is intensely individualistic in his singing. 

5. In all ages this individualistic participation in mass sing 
ing has been natural and spontaneous. The children of Israel 



sang an individualistic "I and My" hymn in rejoicing over the 
army of Pharaoh. The psalms are largely "I and My" hymns 
of praise, of prayer, and of confession. David sings, "The 
Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want." 

It is too much to expect that every singer shall apprehend 
the full import of the words he sings; to accuse him of in 
sincerity and hypocrisy if he fails to rise to their level, or if he 
takes them on his lips thoughtlessly, is uncharitable. In most 
cases the fault lies with the leader of the service who does not 
bring out the meaning and does not prepare the minds and 
hearts of the singers for the hymn about to be sung. 

It is, therefore, not a question of the first person singular, 
but of the kind of personal experience that finds a voice. Is it 
artificial or genuine? Is it morbid or wholesome? Is it de 
pressing or stimulating to the spiritual life? Is it an experi 
ence to which all have attained or may attain, in terms all can 
accept, or is it morbid, fanatical, extravagant? 

No congregation should be expected to sing offhand with 

"I love Thee so, I know not how 
My transports to control," 


"Oh, dearest Jesus, I have grown 
Childish with love of thee." 

There are other limits that need to be considered. A hymn 
may properly be the vehicle for a confession of sin or of 
spiritual unworthiness; but it should not take exaggerated 
forms of expression that only a few could honestly adopt. The 
same is somewhat true of hymns of consecration. Some hymns 
are title deeds to gifts to Jesus Christ so comprehensive that 
few could sincerely subscribe to them. All these hymns, 
though they may have been spontaneous outbursts from the 
hearts of the writers, will seem unreal and forced to the singer, 



and will only aggravate the mechanical unreality and the un 
witting insincerity that vitiate the average service o song. 
The Hymn of Meditation. The hymn o meditation is less 
emotional than that of personal experience or feeling. It is 
quiet in rhetorical style and gentle in mood. Its purpose is not 
didactic, although it often superficially seems to be so. It is 
occupied with doctrinal truth only in an inferential way. It 
contemplates all religious truth, whether doctrinal or ethical, 
in an objective, impersonal way and notes its implications and 
corollaries. It is, therefore, emotionally negative, blending with 
the other elements of the service rather than controlling them. 
Perhaps as typical an instance as can be cited is Bishop 

"Peace, perfect peace, in this dark world of sin? 
The "blood of Jesus whispers peace within." 

Charles Wesley's meditation on the Christian's duties, "A 
charge to keep I have," is another hymn of this class. Faber's 
"There's a wideness in Gods mercy" ("Was there ever kinder 
shepherd") is also in the meditative mood. 
The Hymn of Exhortation. At first blush it may seem a 
little absurd that the members of a congregation should sing 
at each other such a hymn as "Stand up, stand up for Jesus" 
or "Work, for the night is coming." But this is an artificial 
and not a genuine objection. The instinct of the human 
race is toward the singing of just such hortatory songs as 
these. The Marseillaise Hymn, which was one of the strong 
est influences leading to the French Revolution, is simply an 
exhortation, but it swept the French people off their feet and 
helped prepare the way for the great transformation of the 
social structure of the nation. The Church has gone on pro 
ducing and singing these hortatory hymns throughout all 
generations from the time of David until now, because the 
impulse is native to the human heart. 
The Didactic Hymn. The hymn may be used to teach truth 



as well as to express emotion. If we are to accept Paul's 
statements regarding the use of song in the churches in his 
early day, the didactic hymn is the oldest form of the Chris 
tian hymn. "Teaching and admonishing one another" is his 
phrase In Colossians 3: 16. Indeed, we can go back to Moses 
for authority for it, for the ninetieth Psalm is largely didactic. 
In the Psalms we find more instruction than worship. 
There is really no reason why an assembly should not sing 
truth, as well as recite it, as it does in the Apostles' or in the 
Nicene Creed. 

The didactic value of the hymn is too great that we should 
refuse its help in laying a foundation of doctrine in the hearts 
of the people of God. Never was it more necessary than 
now. It is significant of John Wesley's appreciation of its 
didactic value that in his announcement of his hymnal of 
1780, The Large Hymn Eoo\, he refers to his grouping of the 
hymns under subjects, making the hymnal "a little body of 
experimental and practical divinity." 

Many of our most frequently used hymns are unfeignedly 
didactic. Bishop Wordsworth's "O day of rest and gladness" 
is a resume of the arguments for the validity of the Christian 
Sabbath. "The Church's one foundation" is one of a series 
of hymns by Samuel J. Stone expounding the Apostles* Creed. 
Heber's hymn, "Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty" is 
suffused with poetical feeling, but is none the less a didactic 
hymn emphasizing the doctrine of the Trinity. 

At the same time, this religious truth must have a poetic 
element. It is the great value of a hymn as a teaching method 
that it puts heart and feeling into the doctrine it expresses, 
and so gives it reality and appeal. Despite Dr. Austin Phelps* 
rejection of Montgomery's "Prayer is the soul's sincere desire" 
as "without the wings of song," the Church at large has been 
singing it for a century. Even if the last stanza were omitted, 
it would still be a good hymn, because the doctrine of prayer 
is clothed in such beautiful and inspiring language that it is 



eminently fitted for the expression of a congregation in song. 
The Doctrinal Hymn. The doctrinal hymn is simply a 
limited form of the didactic hymn in that it is devoted to the 
promulgation of the leading Christian doctrines, while the 
general didactic hymn may be used to inculcate any truth or 
duty, whether of a fundamental character or not. 

The use of the hymn to teach the doctrines of the Church 
has numerous advantages. It is clear and succinct, not ob 
scuring the truth with philosophical or metaphysical subtle 
ties. It is dogmatic and not argumentative. It has the 
mnemonic advantage of rhythm and rhyme and is easily re 
membered. It has the inspiration of collective singing. Above 
all it is vivid and poetical, emotionalizing and vitalizing what 
in the philosopher's hands becomes abstract and dry. 

America's most distinguished hymnologist clearly differenti 
ates the doctrinal theologian and the doctrinal hymn writer: 
"The theologian and the hymn writer traverse day by day the 
same country, the Kingdom of our Lord. They walk the 
same paths; they see the same objects; but in their methods of 
observation and in their reports of what they see, they differ. 
So far as theology is a science, the theologian deals simply 
with the topography of the country: he explores, he measures, 
he expounds. So far as hymn-writing is an art, the writer 
deals not with topography, but with the landscape: he sees, he 
feels, he sings. The difference in method is made inevitable 
by the variance of temperament of the two men, the diversity 
of gifts. But both methods are as valid as inevitable. Neither 
man is sufficient in himself as an observer or a reporter. It is 
the topography and the landscape together that make the 
country what it is. It is didactics and poetry together that 
can approach the reality of the spiritual Kingdom." 2 

It follows that the doctrinal hymn is not simply reluctantly 
admissible, it is actually peremptorily necessary if the doctrines 
of the Christian faith are to be impressed upon each rising 
generation. This function of the hymn is all the more impor- 



tant because of the decline of doctrinal preaching. It is the 
"substance of doctrine" the hymns supply rather than the 
rigid philosophical shell which the creeds and the catechism 
offer. It is this shell that is "dry/' not the realities it too often 

The Homiletical Hymn. The homiletical hymn is a homily, 
as its name implies a sermonette. The term refers to its 
form, not to its content, for that is usually doctrinal and al 
ways didactic. It is sermonic because it proceeds from point 
to point, leading the way to a practical application. This form 
of hymn makes up the great body of the older hymnody, be 
cause it was written by sermonizers who applied homiletical 
methods to their hymns. 

Take Doddridge's hymn, "Ye servants of the Lord": the 
first stanza makes the general appeal for service; the second 
emphasizes the need of readiness for that service; the third, 
attention to the Lord's commands; the fourth exclaims over 
the joy and the reward of service; the fifth, the honors that 
Christ shall heap on 'his servant. That makes a fine outline 
for a sermon! 

The homiletical hymn was often dry because the sermon 
was dry. They were both too frequently "proses" in a sense 
different from the medieval use of the word. 
The Hymn of Propaganda. The hymn of propaganda calls 
for consideration. It is a didactic hymn, of course, but its 
purpose is not to express the fundamental doctrines of the 
faith, but to urge some subordinate article of it out of all 
proportion to its intrinsic importance, or to win adherents for 
some new religious ideas. There are hymns of Perfectionism, 
of Holiness, of Unity, of Premillenialism, of Second Advent- 
ism, of Christian Science, of phases of Theosophy, that fall 
within this category. 

The spiritual value of some of these is not to be underrated, 
but each hymn must be judged on its own merits. The dan 
ger of exaggeration is the chief point calling for circum- 



spection. Hymns o propaganda criticizing or antagonizing 
the Christian Church must be rejected. 

Hymns of the Social GospeL A few years ago, when the 
sociological aspect of Christianity won wide attention, it was 
seriously proposed to rewrite the whole hymnbook and inject 
the "Social GospeL" A few desirable hymns on Brotherhood 
were written which fill out a previously somewhat neglected 
rubric. Brotherhood is not a discovery of the twentieth cen 
tury, but has been an integral part of Christianity from the 
beginning and was never so fully exemplified as at that period. 
In so far as the "Social Gospel" is simply the application of 
the gospel of Christ to old wrongs that yet need to be righted, 
like slavery, and war, and alcoholism, or to new social com 
plexes in our modern economic life where there is injustice, or 
where there is need of help for body, mind, or soul, hymns 
may prove desirable helps. They will, however, be written 
spontaneously, not as propaganda, and will be used freely in 
so far as there is practical and emotional justification for them. 
The onward progress of the Kingdom in these unfinished 
tasks will most likely depend on the stimulation of the great 
motives that have given victory in the past. It is the appeal 
to these motives that gives vitality to such a hymn as "Where 
cross the crowded ways of life," by Frank Mason North. 
Special Hymns. It is a little difficult to supply hymns for 
subordinate topics which do not stir the spiritual pulses, and 
hence the poorest hymns in our hymnbooks are found in 
these divisions. The doctrines of Human Depravity, Regen- 
eration, Sanctification, the State of the Impenitent Dead, do 
not lend themselves to attractive hymnic expression. 

These hymns have no wings; they are unemotional and 
without appeal to the imagination. Yet the selectors of hymns 
who have a purely homiletical point of view demand that a 
hymnal shall supply appropriate lyrics to fit subjects and 
occasions that have no lyrical possibilities. If the demands of 
symmetrical completeness in a hymnal, or of close fitness of 



theme in a service, must be met, then one must be content 
with prosaic verses lacking in poetic charm or emotional in 

The Great Hymnic Themes. There are certain doctrines, 
certain experiences, that appeal so strongly to Christian hearts 
that the impulse to write and sing about them far exceeds that 
growing out of less general, less striking themes. There may 
be a great difference in the favorite themes of different ^per 
sons, under different circumstances, in different generations. 
The Latin medieval hymnists greatly stressed the suffering 
Christ; Watts sang of the majesty and glory o God and of 
his reign in the moral and spiritual world, and his hymns 
are found largely in the purely worshipful rubrics of our 
hymnals; Charles Wesley wrote in the midst of a great revival, 
and his hymns emphasize the plan of salvation and voice the 
personal experiences of the saved. In our own day the ideas 
of service, of public welfare, of works of philanthropy and 
mercy, and of social justice find expression. 

The supreme theme, of course, is Christ. Whatever phases 
of Christian doctrine or experience may seem to absorb the 
mind of any generation, still the songs cluster about the person 
of Jesus Christ. As Dr. Austin Phelps eloquently insists, "here 
the rapture of holy song culminates on earth, as it does in 
heaven. Here every grace of religious character, and every 
experience of a devout life, has found freedom to express itself 
in hymns of worship. Where can another such body of sacred 
poetry be found in any language, as that which comprises the 
Christology of the songs of the Church?" 

This hymnody is all the more appealing in that it sings a 
living and not a dead Christ, a present personality, near and 
dear, and not merely a historical character. The singer does 
not strain his power of thought and elevation of expression to 
hymn adequately the perfections of an infinite God, but 
spontaneously rejoices in a Friend who "sticketh closer than 
a brother"! 

Chapter FT- 


IF this were a purely scholastic and literary treatise on the 
hymnody of the Church, the subject of this chapter might be 
ignored; but this discussion purports to be practical, and the 
Gospel hymn is too large a factor in the life and work of our 
churches to be thus brushed aside. It is a conservative esti 
mate to say that four out of five churches in our land make 
use of these hymns to a greater or less extent. They even 
elbow their way into the most exclusive hymnals issued by 
ecclesiastical authorities. Collections of them are found not 
only in rural or village communities, but in urban churches as 
well. Great denominational publishing houses issue them by 
the hundred thousand. They are heard in the great ecclesi 
astical gatherings and conventions of the land. Great evan 
gelistic movements depend on them for inspiration and for 
aggressive energy. 

Yet the Gospel hymn has been treated as a convenient 
"punching bag" for the literary and musical idealist. One 
respects the antagonistic attitude of the high liturgist to whom 
the form is so significant, or of the literary or scholarly man 
whose susceptibilities are outraged by the acknowledged short 
comings and banalities of many of these popular religious 
lyrics. Nonetheless, one is astonished that persons of high 
intelligence, in their devotion to exclusively literary and 



musical standards, should be blind to the great spiritual value 
of the better specimens of this indiscriminately condemned 
class of hymns., and to the extraordinary effectiveness and the 
immense results in aggressive religious work which this 
people's hymnody has demonstrated. 

This is really only the recrudescence of an ancient feud be 
tween the conception of the hymn as exclusively worshipful 
and belonging to the liturgical service, and as the free lyrical 
expression of the religious life of the people adapted to all 
phases of Christian life individual, domestic, and social, as 
well as ecclesiastical. As the church life of the early Chris 
tians began to crystallize, the former improvisations were dis 
couraged. In time, the service of song was taken from the 
laity in the interest of greater dignity and churchliness. The 
Arian controversy with its hymnic outburst freed the wings of 
popular religious song, only for them to be restrained again 
by the rigid formalism organized and enforced by Gregory 
the Great. 

The Waldenses, the Hussites, the Lollards, each group had 
its own popular hymnody. In the general breaking of bonds 
in the Reformation, the popular hymns of Huss and Luther 
and their associates, and the metrical psalms of Marot and 
Sternhold set to popular secular melodies, were the first mani 
festations of the new freedom. 

The same outcry was heard against the hymns of Watts, 
and a little later against those of the Wesleys, not only in 
Great Britain, but in New England as well. In the latter the 
outcry was heard against the "camp-meeting ditties" of the 
aggressive Methodists as they spread into the West. 

Even now, in Germany there is frequent protest against the 
use in church service of the simpler "folk" hymns, like "Harre 
des Herrn" (Wait on the Lord), "Ich will streben" (I will 
strive), and "Sei getreu bis in den Tod" (Be faithful unto 
death), because they are more recent in origin and have not 
the severe dignity of the older hymns and chorals. 



And so the feud between the devout formalism of the 
liturgical spirit and the free attitude of aggressive spirituality 
has gone on from century to century and from land to land,, 
and will continue to do so "until He come." 
Lacf^ of Discrimination. There is an utter lack of discrimi 
nation shown in the opposition to Gospel hymns. 

It is no more true that all Gospel and Sunday-school hymns 
are crude, illiterate, and undignified than is the anti-foreign 
Chinese's charge that all Americans are liars and thieves. 
Many of the Gospel hymns were written by devout, cultured 
people of high intelligence. Fanny Crosby has had wide 
recognition, and there have been many others of equal ability, 
but lacking her adventitious appeal for sympathy. There are 
many Gospel hymns which deserve the harshest denunciations 
that have been expressed. In a people's hymnody that was 
inevitable; but there are others so fine that the line of essential 
values between the Gospel and the standard hymn is difficult 
to trace. Lowell Mason and Thomas Hastings* Spiritual Songs 
was practically a people's Gospel songbook, used for the same 
purposes and in the same relative spirit, and largely made up 
of new materials in text and music just like a modern Gospel 
songbook, being even issued in parts. Among its new hymns 
were Palmer's "My faith looks up to Thee" and Smith's "The 
morning light is breaking," now recognized as leading stand 
ard hymns. The same is true of Gilmore's "He leadeth me, 
O blessed thought!" and Kate Hankey's "I love to tell the 
story" and Mrs. Hawks' "I need Thee every hour." Mrs. 
Gates' "I will sing you a song of that beautiful land," E. E. 
Hewitt's "More about Jesus would I know," Hopper's "Jesus, 
Saviour, pilot me," Stite's "Simply trusting every day," Wai- 
ford's "Sweet hour of prayer," Hunter's "In the Christian's 
home in glory," Bliss' "Almost persuaded," SpafEord's "It is 
well with my soul," and Pres. Dr. J. E. Rankin's "God be with 
you till we meet again" are none of them illiterate or undigni 
fied. Indeed, many of the writers of these despised hymns 



were college professors, clergymen of high standing, editors, 
women of education and culture and of profound spiritual 
life. Many Gospel song writers are far and away superior to 
the average of the hymnists of the eighteenth century indeed, 
have written nothing so unpoetical and so distinctly offensive 
to good taste as some of the hymns published by Watts and 
Wesley, the hymm'c giants of that age. 

There is an impulse to distinguish between Gospel hymns 
and Gospel songs, accepting the former and rejecting the 
latter; but that is playing with words. Good Gospel songs are 
to be baptized Gospel hymns and allowed to enter the golden 
gates of approved hymnody. Others draw the line at the 
end of the Moody and Sankey campaigns, closing the canon 
at that time and regarding all later Gospel songs as apocry 
phal! But the worst specimens that have appeared were issued 
before that date and many excellent ones have been written 
since. No such mechanical criteria can be applied. The acid 
test of actual usefulness must be employed with Gospel songs 
as it was to formal hymns. That many of the former have 
won a permanent place without the emendation needed by 
the latter shows how unjustified is the indiscriminate con 
demnation of this whole class of sacred lyrics. 
Wrong Assumptions of the Opposition. In much of the dis 
cussion there seems to be an underlying assumption that there 
is an inherent antagonism between the standard and the 
Gospel hymn, that the latter is intended to displace the 
former. Nothing can be farther from the truth. It is true 
there is an occasional church where the standard hymns are 
neglected, but they are a negligible minority. The current 
Gospel song collections practically all supply a large depart 
ment of standard hymns and their tunes, in many cases all 
that are in actual general use. The value of the standard 
hymn is recognized everywhere as having a most important 
place in the work of the church. 

But its very dignity and strength occasion the limitations 



to its use, and beyond those limitations the Gospel hymn 
comes as a complementary help. The wise preacher does not 
use Gospel hymns in his formal,, worshipful services, but finds 
them indispensable in popular evening services, where not 
awe and solemnity but spirit and aggressiveness, and appeal 
to the person of average or less culture, are needed. His 
prayer meeting and other subordinate meetings of groups need 
the individual feeling and intimacy with religious things sup 
plied by the Gospel hymns. 

In evangelistic meetings a few of the standards can express 
the high peaks of interest, but the Gospel songs lead up to 
those heights. The great revivals of the nineteenth and of the 
early decades of this century were distinctly characterized by 
the use of Gospel songs, many of them not even of the higher 

Unfairness in Comparisons Made. While the worst specimens 
of Gospel hymns have usually been selected as the basis of 
attack, the very best of the standard hymns have been held up 
as the criterion of value; the utter unfairness of such com 
parison is evident enough. Gospel hymns should be judged 
by their best specimens when compared with standard hymns. 

The inequity of such a comparison is made more flagrant 
by the fact that these standard hymns, only hundreds in 
number, which are justly appreciated and kuded, are the 
survivors of multiplied tens of thousands that were written 
through the generations. Of the more than seven hundred 
written by Isaac Watts, twenty-three appear in the recent 
Presbyterian Hymnal. Of the nearly seven thousand hymns 
of Charles Wesley, the new Methodist Hymnal, naturally 
biased in judgment by tradition, uses only fifty-five, while the 
New Presbyterian Hymnal finds space for only eighteen. 
This tremendous mortality is not necessarily due to offensive 
weakness and faults, for hundreds served their day and gen 
eration most acceptably and well. In like manner the older 
Gospel hymns, which have had their day of usefulness are 



fading out of these collections, making way for new ones that 
express the feelings of the present generation more intimately. 
This is as it should be. 

But when the detractor of current Gospel hymns finds some 
delectable bit of vulgarity or of literary clumsiness or of gram 
matical solecism, let him remember that Watts published lines 
like these: 

"Tame heifers here their thirst allay 
And for the stream wild asses bray." 

"I'll purge my family around 
And make the wicked flee"; 

and that John Wesley allowed his brother to publish 

"Idle men and boys are found 
Standing on the devil's ground; 
He will give them work to do, 
He will pay their wages too." 

Remember also that William Cowper, the poet acclaimed by 
literary critics as the father of a new movement in poetical 
writing, issued such a stanza as this : 

"Not such as hypocrites suppose 
Who with a graceless heart 
Taste not of Thee, but drink a dose 
Prepared by Satan's art." 

If the great poets and hymn writers of that age wrote such 
lines, what must have been the character of the verses of the 
obscure scribblers and poetasters of their day! 

Not only do the best of the standard hymns alone survive, 
but those survivors have been rewritten and amended by a 
half-century of editors and hymn revisers, their revisions being 
re-revised by succeeding critics, as we have seen in a previous 
chapter. Every line and phrase has been submitted again and 
again to the microscope of the literary critic, until we have 



a body of hymns established In every detail by the consensus 
of the best literary minds of the last century. This is no 
derogation of our accepted hymns, but a great advantage to 
them; but it must not be overlooked in making a fair com 

Criteria for Evaluation. Much of the criticism of the Gospel 
hymn is due to excessive emphasis on the literary and poetical 
aspects of the verses to which objection is made. But we have 
already insisted on the fact that these are not the final criteria 
of the value of hymns, although they are important factors 
not to be overlooked. 

Speaking of a hymnal containing material of inferior literary 
quality, Dr. Austin Phelps, of Andover Seminary, who shared 
with his colleague in the faculty of that institution the honor 
of being the fathers of American hymnology, wisely remarks: 
"It is a shallow judgment either to approve or to condemn such 
a work in the spirit of a connoisseur in aesthetics. The very 
conditions of excellence in a body of popular psalmody must 
extend its limits out of the range of a purely Attic taste/' 

The approval or rejection of a hymn, or of a body of hymns, 
is not a question of personal taste or liking, nor even of per 
sonal religious reactions, but a question of the needs o the 
people to be stimulated and helped, and the results of interest 
and spiritual impression secured among them by the hymns 
under consideration. 

Gosfd Hymns and the Unsaved. There is a distressing lack 
of understanding both of the real function of the hymn and of 
the needs o the body of Christians as a whole, and even a 
greater ignorance of the psychology of reaching the unsaved. 
If the body of our standard hymns fails to develop needed in 
terest among a large element in our churches, how much 
less will it appeal to these outside the fold! If these intellect 
ually and culturally less privileged masses in and out of the 
Church are to follow the Apostolic example and "sing with 
the understanding," the songs must lie within the range of 



their understanding. Professor A. S. Hoyt, D.D., of Auburn 
Theological Seminary, sums up the situation very wisely: "A 
few of the modern revival hymns make quick appeal to the 
modern heart, are easily sung, and may be teachers of religious 
life. The majority of them are shallow in thought and with 
out musical worth. But in all matters of education we must 
help men as we find them and patiently lift them to better 

Gospel Hymns and the Demands of Worship. Perhaps the 
most misleading assumption among those who reject the Gos 
pel hymn is that the chief use of hymns is in worship. They 
will sing didactic hymns, hortative hymns, inspirational 
hymns, addressed solely to human ears and hearts in the stated 
church service and then cast out the Gospel hymn because it is 
not fitted for solemn worship. That attitude conceives the 
Divine Being as a literary connoisseur, or as a music critic who 
applies conventional academic criteria in accepting what his 
people bring him. Their slogan is that we must bring to 
God only our best, insisting that anything but our best is an 
insult to him, forgetting that we do not bring the hymn, but 
the spiritual results of the hymn in devotion and love and 
consecration, and that hymn which produces these in the given 
congregation is the best. 

Moreover, the approach to God is not the sole function of 
effective hymns; it may instead be the approach to men. The 
best hymn in that department is the one that succeeds most 
fully in affecting the souls to be influenced. There, not the 
abstract values of the hymn count, but its psychological adapta 
tion to the actual mental, moral, and spiritual condition of 
the minds and hearts to be helped, not overlooking even the 
physical factors essential to religious results. 

Furthermore, there are lines of church activity which need 
the religious atmosphere and suggestiveness but are concerned 
with social and administrative work, with the temporalities 
of church life, for which many of these Gospel hymns arc 



eminently fitted. There are campaigns, drives, and move 
ments that need musical help such as many of the less sub 
jectively pious Gospel hymns can give. 
Gospel Hymns in the Preparatory Service. There are large 
and miscellaneous church gatherings where there is no prepa 
ration of mind to sing worthily and deeply religious hymns, 
and where it would be a sacrilege to ask the miscellaneous 
crowd to take upon their lips such a hymn as "O Love that 
wilt not let me go" or "Oh, worship the King, all-glorious 
above." Better to sing the serni-religious and shallow "Brighten 
the corner where you are" until the crowd has been psychically 

Gospel Hymns in the Laboratory. When we come to organ 
ized campaigns to persuade unconverted persons, old and 
young, to accept Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord, the need 
of these informal, stimulating, emotional folk songs becomes 
immediately apparent. Awe, impressiveness, spiritual eleva 
tion of mind, such as are supposed to be produced by the 
standard hymns, are not the stimuli that create aggressiveness 
of mind among Christian workers, nor are they calculated to 
awaken a response among the unspiritual. It is proved as 
surely by actual laboratory experiment that Gospel songs pro 
duce the conditions needed for securing a religious revival as 
that hydrochloric acid and water poured over zinc clippings 
will produce hydrogen. 

Lord Shaftesbury, the great English philanthropist and 
Christian worker, speaking in Ireland in the interest of evan 
gelistic work there, said: "Therefore go on circulating the 
Scriptures. I should have been glad to have had also the 
circulation of some well-known hymns, because I have seen 
the effect produced by those of Moody and Sankey. If they 
would only return to this country, they would be astonished 
at seeing the influence exerted by those hymns which they 

It is worthy of incidental note that the most of those to 



whom the Gospel hymn Is anathema are not much in sym 
pathy with any evangelistic methods; nay more, they seem to 
shrink from popular manifestations of religious life. They 
have sharpened the edge of their religious refinement until 
it will no longer cut. 

The Advantages of Gospel Hymns. These Gospel hymns 
have several distinct advantages that should not be overlooked. 
They are simple, easily understood by everybody, quickly ap 
propriated as his own expression by the most limited in 
education or culture. They are quite emotional, expressing 
feeling and creating it. They are spontaneous and free, with 
no labored subtlety or recondite allusion. They are usually 
more or less rhythmical and stimulating, physically as well 
as mentally. They are adaptable to various situations and 
states of feeling. Even more than standard hymns they ex 
press personal religious experiences, and are more direct in 
their hortative method. The chorus, if intelligently written, 
emphasizes the fundamental idea of the hymn in an un- 
escapable way. As a tool for aggressive effort it has no sub 
stitute, and but one rival earnest and spirit-filled preaching. 
Discrimination in the Use of Gospel Songs. It should be 
said, however, that the inventory of its values mentioned above 
applies to only a comparatively small part of the Gospel songs 
offered to the public, just as the accepted standard hymns are 
a very small part of the formal hymns from which they have 
been gleaned. Usually its faults are aridity, vapidity, and 
shallowness. Yet in all these shortcomings, specimens of equal 
weakness and futility can be found in verses by accepted hymn 

The better Gospel songs are after all the sincere expression 
of a certain stage of culture of mind and soul. That stage may 
not be high nor admirable, but it must be allowed its spon 
taneous expression. 

Every generation has had its own ephemeral hymnody 
and will continue to have it in spite of all the scolding critics. 



When our religious people stop writing and singing new songs 
and are satisfied to sing over and over again the songs o 
preceding ages, it will prove that the process of ossification 
has set in and that vital force is passing away. Better that 
literary unskillfulness and mediocre musical talent shall con 
tinue to write, better to have ephemeral, shallow, and un 
satisfying songs written by the thousands, than that the impulse 
to express spontaneously the vital godliness within should be 
entirely lost. 





Chapter VII 


IN considering the origin of the Christian hymn, one must re 
member that it is an outgrowth of man's innate impulse to 
express his feelings in hymns and songs. That impulse is 
constitutional; man sings because he was so made that he 
cannot help singing. 

Furthermore, the Christian hymn is the natural development 
of the Hebrew psalm, just as Christianity is the consummation 
of the Jewish religion. The two systems of religion are re 
lated as closely as the foundation and the superstructure of a 
great temple. We shall find the Hebrew voice of worship not 
only leading the songs of the Apostolic Church, but through 
all the succeeding ages sounding the controlling note of all 
Christian praise. David and the sons of Asaph led the choirs 
and congregations in chapel and church and cathedral as 
truly as they did those in the temple and synagogues. Chris 
tianity gave the Psalms a larger, more inspiring message and 
a more literary and more musical setting; but the thrumming 
of David's harp has been heard through all the long centuries 
and is still heard around the world. 

The Greek atmosphere in which the Early Church de 
veloped might be supposed to have influenced the character of 
the Apostolic hymnody; but the Greek Christians were not 
literary in culture, and the Greek religion had no congrega- 



donal singing. It took several generations before it began to 
affect the form and music of the Christian hymnody, but 
eventually it was to become a formative force. 


The Rise of Sacred Song in Apostolic Times. But when the 
baptism of the Holy Spirit vitalized and organized the Chris 
tian Church, the tide of sacred song began to swell. It had a 
great heritage from the dying Jewish church: its fundamental 
ideas, its laws, its prophets, its hope of the Messiah now trans 
formed into a reality; but not the least of its inheritances were 
the habit of praise and worship, and the lyrics that gave 
them form. 

We read that the Church was filled with joy and praised 
God. Incidentally, we learn that, despite sufferings from 
cruel scourging, Paul and Silas sang hymns in the Philippian 
prison, showing that with the new wine of Christian joy there 
were created new bottles to contain it. We may be sure this 
was not an isolated instance, but the occurrence of an estab 
lished practice. 

Apostolic Emphasis of Sacred Song. James says, "Is any 
merry, let him sing psalms." Whether he meant David's or 
"private" psalms is left open to conjecture. The American 
Revised Version translates it "praise." Paul is most definite 
in recognizing "hymns and spiritual songs" as distinguished 
from "psalms." Some commentators have interpreted the 
latter as David's psalms, the "hymns" as the already, accepted 
canticles, and the "spiritual songs" as the new songs, more or 
less improvised, that were sung by individuals, "teaching and 
admonishing one another," "singing with grace in the heart." 

Paul's conception of the hymn, therefore, was not a collec 
tive hymn, sung by all, but a hymn of edification sung by 
individual singers. The practice of solo singing assumed in 
Paul's exhortations in Ephesians and Colossians, due to the 
perennial danger of governmental raids and persecutions, still 



continued in the time of Tertuliian (circa 198). He writes 
that after their common meal "each man, according as he is 
able, is called on, out of the Holy Scriptures, or of his own 
mind, to sing publicly to God. Hence it is proved in what 
degree he hath drunken" a refutation of the common charge 
of gluttony and drunkenness. 

Traces of Hymns in the Epistles. In the eagerness to unearth 
traces of the supposed hyrnnody of the Apostolic church, the 
wish has been father to the thought, and passages have been 
pointed out as probable quotations from hymns current in the 
churches. Some of them are quite plausible, but others are 
examples of the periodic structure so manifest in the style of 
both Christ and Paul and in the Oriental proverbial form, 
but lacking the parallelism of the Psalms. 

In Ephesians 5: 14, Paul has the formula of quotation 
from the Old Testament, but no such passage, or anything 
approaching it, can be found in either the canonical or un- 
canonical books of the Old Testament. If we should sub 
stitute "it" for "he," the second word of the passage "it" might 
refer to a hymn in common use. Westcott and Hort put it in 
metrical form, but the Revised Versions do not. It is very 
plausible, however; even in the English translation the struc 
ture is distinctly metrical: 

"Awake, thou that sleepest, 
And arise from, the dead, 
And Christ shall give thee light." 

Equally plausible is the passage in I Timothy 3: 16, although 
not formally quoted: 

"God was manifested in the flesh, 
Justified in the spirit, 

Seen of angels, 
Preached unto the Gentiles, 
Believed on in the world, 
Received up into glory." 



This Is particularly true of such passages as have rhetorical 
warmth rather than inherent lyric quality. The extraordinary 
flight of the Spirit that has been called the "Hymn of Love" 
(1 Cor. 13) can be called a hymn only by stretching the limits 
of the definition beyond all reasonable bounds. Noble as it is, 
no composer has ever succeeded in setting it to worthy music. 
As well call Lincoln's Gettysburg address a Memorial Day 
Hymn. The same may be said of the ecstatic passage which 
opens Paul's letter to the Ephesians (1: 2-12). 
The Hymns of the Apocalypse. It has been suggested that 
the choral passages of the Book of Revelation are quotations 
from current hymns. If that were true, how could the little 
gatherings of Christians have risen to the majesty of these 
marvelous hymns of adoration, either vocally or spiritually? 
They are so intimately a part of the stupendous scenes in 
which they appear as to make their being merely quotations 
seem impossible. Only the itch of a German-type scholarship 
to press out the last drop of possibility from any given his 
torical material, and the calm assurance that the results must 
be true, since it has recognized them, can explain this 

These hymns are too integral a part of the scenes, too conso 
nant with their elevated spirit, and logically too inevitable, that 
they should have been mechanically introduced or even 
adapted from current hymns they are too choral in the grand 

In general, we may accept the same judgment of Dr. Lyman 
Coleman, in his work The Primitive Church. "The argument 
is not conclusive, and all the learned criticism, the talent and 
the taste, that have been employed on this point, leave us little 
else than uncertain conjecture on which to build a hypothesis.'* 
"The Odes of Solomon." "The Odes of Solomon" is a Syriac 
collection of hymns which good authorities claim to be of the 
Apostolic Age; one authority, Mrs. Gibson, insists that it pre 
cedes Paul's letter to the Ephesians, while the most conserva- 



tive concede that it belongs to the first century, or the first half 
of the second. 

Its discoverer, Dr. Rendell Harris, Director of studies at 
Woodbrooke, the Quaker center at Selly Oak, England, says 
of the "Odes": "They are utterly radiant with faith and love, 
shot through and through with what the New Testament 
calls *the joy of the Lord.' " He quotes one of them: "A great 
day has shined upon us; marvelous is He who has given us of 
His glory. Let us, therefore, all of us unite together in the 
name of the Lord, and let us honor Him in His goodness, and 
let us meditate in His love by night and by day." l 

The first stanza of Ode XXVI is translated as follows: 

I poured out praise to the Lord, 

For I am his: 
And I will speak his holy song, 

For my heart is with him, 
For his harp is in my hands, 
And the odes of his rest shall not be silent. 
I will cry unto him from my whole heart; 
I will praise and exalt him with all my members. 
For from the East and even to the West 

Is his praise; 
And from the South and even to the North 

Is his confession: 

And from the top of the hills to their utmost bound 
Is his perfection. 

The Failure of Apostolic Spiritual Songs to Survive. It is 
likely that the reason why no definitely recognized collection 
of hymns has survived from Apostolic times, and immediately 
thereafter, is that the singing, outside of the Psalms and Gos 
pel canticles, was largely extemporaneous. The later hymnic 
form and structure had not yet developed. Dr. Neale, who 
deserves to be recognized as a high authority, referring to the 
apostolic "hymns" and "spiritual songs/' says: "From the 
brief allusions we find to the subject in the New Testament 



we should gather that the hymns and spiritual songs of the 
Apostles were written in metrical prose." Rhyming did not 
come into use until very much later. The singing was in 
recitative with rather formless melodies. Such extemporiza 
tions as appealed to the body of believers were passed on 
from place to place, the very best from generation to genera 
tion, from memory and by word of mouth, for illiteracy was 
the common lot of the mass of early believers. These people's 
spiritual songs were presently lost, much as were most of our 
early American "spirituals" that served so excellent a purpose. 

Indeed, it would be entirely correct to conceive of the 
stream of devout song flowing steadily on from the "hymns 
and spiritual songs" of the Apostolic times down through the 
centuries until our own time, sometimes finding temporary 
subterranean channels, as with the Albigenses, the Hussites, 
and the Lollards, but always inspiring, refreshing, and com 
forting the generations as it passes. It was the Laus Perennis, 
the unfailing sacrifice of praise, that day and night rose with 
out break or intermission to the ears of the Almighty. In 
every generation, hymns that had nobly served preceding gen 
erations were replaced by new ones fresh from throbbing 
hearts that had re-experienced the vital truths of Christianity. 

It is no condemnation of a hymn that the Church lays 
it aside. That it served only for a season may have been due 
to its peculiar adaptation to the individuality of the age, to the 
temporary conditions and needs among God's saints of that 
particular time. 


'Chapter VIII' 


The Post- Apostolic Church a Singing Church. Whatever 
conclusion we reach regarding the song service during the 
Apostolic age, because of the meager facts we have regarding 
it, we have sufficient information regarding the second, third, 
and fourth centuries to be sure that the hymn had become a 
more and more important feature of the religious life. The 
tide of song swells louder and higher as the generations pass. 
Clement of Alexandria, the reputed writer of the earliest 
surviving Christian hymn, "Shepherd of tender youth," writes, 
"We cultivate our fields, praising; we sail the sea, hymning." 
Jerome writes to Marcellus, "You could not go into the field, 
but you might hear the plowman at his hallelujahs, the mower 
at his hymns, ^nd the vinedresser singing David's psalms." 
Tertullian, a little earlier, when the antiphonal singing was 
still in vogue, objects to the marriage of a Christian with an 
unbeliever, because they cannot sing together, whereas the 
Christian mates each would challenge the other "which shall 
better chant to the Lord." The early church was, therefore, 
a singing church. 

Tertullian was not a writer of hymns, for he declared "We 
have a plenty of verses, sentences, songs, proverbs." We do 
not have their hymns, but we have the names of prominent 
hymn writers who sealed their faith with their blood: Ignatius, 



Athenogenes, Hippolytus, and many others who did not win 
a martyr's crown. 

All these hymns blossomed out of the consuming love for 
the Lord Jesus Christ, for which the Jewish psalms could give 
no expression. That they were used for public worship we 
have the testimony of Pliny (AJ>. 110). His report from 
Bithynia to the Emperor Trajan was that "the new sect have 
a custom of meeting before dawn on a stated day and singing 
by turn a hymn to Christ as God." 

The Earliest Surviving Hymns. Unless we accept the Syriac 
"Odes of Solomon" as an apostolic hymnbook, none of the 
"spiritual songs" of that age survive. The hymn written (or 
quoted?) by Clement in 170 is accepted as the earliest hymn 
handed down to us, with the "Candlelight Hymn" as possibly 

Clement's hymn "Shepherd of tender youth" is found in 
most of our hymnals and is in actual use. 1 Dr. Henry M. 
Dexter's version, as generally used, is an attenuation suited to 
the taste of our day rather than a faithful reproduction of the 
original, which begins with a rather violent figure, "Curb for 
stubborn steed" (E. H. Plumptre). 

The date of the "Candlelight Hymn" is very uncertain. 
It was so old in 370 that another St. Basil could throw no 
light on its origin: "It seemed fitting to our fathers not to 
receive the gift of light at eventide in silence, but on its 
appearing immediately to give thanks." The version by John 
Keble is still in use : 

"Hail, glad'ning Light, of His pure glory poured 
Who is the immortal Father heavenly, blest, 
Holiest of holies, Jesus Christ, our Lord! 
Now we are come to the sun's hour of rest; 
The lights of evening round us shine; 
We hymn the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit divine." 

The Relation of Hymns to Psalms and Canticles. In the very 
nature of the case, these individual songs and hymns and 



psalms had no authority back of them. They were the 
"spirituals/ 5 the Gospel songs of their day and generation. 
Most of them were improvisations for a single service flying 
sparks from the anvil of the Spirit. Undoubtedly others had 
a longer life, were written out and passed from hand to hand 
and even from generation to generation. 

These hymns were mostly in Greek, though some were in 
Syriac, and as far as they were given a standard form they 
used Greek classical meters. Some were modeled on the 
Septuagint psalms and were known as "private psalms." 
Many were odes, like the "Odes of Solomon/* 

But it is quite evident that this body of song was never 
regarded as on an equality with the Psalms of the Jewish 
church, or with the Canticles of the New Testament. These 
had the sanctions of the rapidly crystallizing canon of the 
New Testament, and the established canon of the Old, which 
gave an authority that was lacking in the current hymnody. 
The relation was even more pronounced than that in our own 
day between the body of hymns surviving through the genera 
tions recognized as "standard" and the current religious songs 
of the hour. 

In addition to the Psalms taken over from the Jewish 
psalter (not over one-half of which were ever sung) and the 
Canticles of Luke's Gospel, there gradually rose a subsidiary 
body of canticles which by the fourth century had been for 
the most part fully formulated. They were developments of 
passages from both the Old and New Testament. In addition 
to the ejaculatory responses, "Alleluia" and "Hosanna/* the 
following were hymns authorized to be used in Christian 

L The Gloria in Excelsis, developed from the song of the 
angels as found in Luke, known as the Greater Doxology. 

2. The Ter Sanctus, based on Isaiah 6; 3, possibly later asso 
ciated with Revelation 4: 8, and called the Cherubical Hymn. 

3. The Benedicite, the song of the three Hebrew children 



In the furnace, a paraphrase o the forty-eighth Psalm, likely 
taken from the Apocrypha. 

4. The Gloria Patri or Lesser Doxology, apparently handed 
down from the Apostolic time, developed from the baptismal 
formula. It was expanded during the Arian controversy, 
adding "As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, 
world without end." 2 

The Hymn as Propaganda. The inferiority of the popular 
hymnody became ever more pronounced as the hymn was 
employed by heretical sects as a means of propagating their 
pernicious doctrines. Bardesanes and his son Harmonius in 
Edessa, Asia, a little later composed an entire psalter of one 
hundred and fifty psalms, "deserting David's truth and pre 
serving David's numbers," as Ephrem Syrus expressed it. 

The Gnostic hymns during the third century were slowly 
undermining the faith of the people, but it was not until Arius 
appeared with his denial of the deity of Jesus Christ and spread 
broadcast his "Thalia," a collection of practical hymns empha 
sizing practical duties and the value of the daily life of the 
people, as well as magnifying the humanity of Jesus, that the 
full extent of the revolution in the religious sentiment of the 
people became evident. He fitted his measures to well-known 
popular tunes, sung only by those "who sing songs over their 
wine with noise and revel." 

Arius, an ungainly giant of tremendous force of personality 
and unbounded energy, thus began a movement that was to 
convulse with its controversy the whole Roman Empire 
through many generations, even down to our own times, and 
was to prepare Asia and Northern Africa for the super- 
imposition of the Mohammedan personality and cult upon an 
emasculated Christianity. 

In 269, Paul of Samosata, an Arian Bishop, banished from 
his churches the hymns that had come down from the second 
century because they were addressed to Christ as God and 
"as being innovations, the work of men of later times." He 



began the Arian fashion o propaganda by means of hymns. 
As an answer to this came the great hymnic outburst of the 
fourth century, headed by Gregory of Nazianzus and partici 
pated in by St. Chrysostom. 3 

It is not surprising, therefore, that the Synod that met in 
Laodicea in 363 ordered that "psalms composed by private 
men must not be read in the church, nor uncanonical books, 
but only the canonical of the New and Old Testament." 

Nor need we wonder that with the Arian fanatics inter 
rupting orthodox services by starting their heterodox hymns, 
the same Synod decided that "beside the psalm singers ap 
pointed thereto who mount the ambo and sing out of the 
book, no others shall sing in church." 

This robbing the lips and the hearts of the congregation 
of its share of the public praise, in order to prevent Gnostic 
and Arian heretics from profaning public services with their 
strife and contention, hardened into a perpetual prohibition, 
and in the Greek church the people are mute to this day, 4 

It should be remembered that these prohibitions applied 
only to public services and their liturgies. Outside the walls 
of the larger churches the people were still singing. Indeed, 
the popular song was used by the orthodox to displace the 
heretical songs of the Arians, as was done by Chrysostom in 
Constantinople, in order to stem the tide of attack on the doc 
trine of the deity of Christ. 


-Chapter IX- 



THE reaction of the Greek Church to the hymnic attack of 
Arians interests us because of its influence on the general 
development of the Christian hymn. 

Of the earliest hymn writers we know little, and their work 
has not come down to us. We have a hymn of Methodius 
(311) based on the parable of the ten virgins, of considerable 
vigor and merit. 

The most prominent figure that greets us is that of Gregory 
of Nazianzus (327-389) . He was called to Constantinople by 
the Emperor Theodosius to lead the orthodox forces against 
the Arian enemy. He was appointed court preacher, Patriarch 
of the Eastern Church, and president of the Ecumenical 
Council of Constantinople; but the pious, gentle monk, while 
a great preacher and a fertile hymn writer (it is said that he 
wrote thirty thousand hymns), was not fitted for the strife 
and intrigue rampant in the Capital; within a few years he 
returned to his cell at Nazianzus in Cappadocia. His hymns 
are ranked very high. Dr. Brownlee has given an excellent 
version of his "Evening Hymn": 

"O word of truth! In devious paths 

My wayward feet have trod; 
I have not kept the day serene 
I gave at morn to God. 



And now 'tis night, and night within, " ' 

O God, the light hath fled! 
I have not kept the vow I made 

When morn its glories shed. 

For clouds of gloom from nether world 

Obscured my upward way; 
O Christ, the Light, thy light bestow, 

And turn my night to day!" 

Synesius (375-430), Bishop o Gyrene, was a brilliant man, 
a friend of Hypatia, whom most general readers know as the 
heroine of Charles Kingsley's great historical romance. He 
wrote some very tender hymns and poems that have been 
widely appreciated. He is best known by his hymn, "Lord 
Jesus, think on me," a free paraphrase of which (by Allen W. 
Chatfield) is found in some of our hymnals. 

Anatolius (d.458) is known to us, not as the able and noble 
Byzantine pontiff, but as the original writer of two quite 
different hymns, translated by Dr. Mason Neale: the evening 
hymn, "The day is past and over," and the descriptive hymn, 
"Fierce was the wild billow." He was one of the first to for 
sake the classical forms and to put his thoughts into har 
monious prose. He wrote few hymns, but all of great 


The earlier Greek hymn writers wrote in the -classical meas 
ures and evinced an admirable sense of form; but the later 
hymnists, following the example of Anatolius, wrote in 
rhythmical prose and not by any means as felicitously. More 
over, the later Greek language greatly degenerated, losing its 
lucidity and subtlety of expression. 1 

The later Greek hymns had many ecclesiastical and theo 
logical phrases difficult to render. They were filled with 
grotesque figures; the worship of Mary, and even of the saints, 



Is offensive. Being mostly in rhythmical prose, they were not 
intended to be sung at most only to be chanted. Really 
they were not hymns in the ordinary sense of the word; rather 
they were the raw materials of hymns. As Dr. Brownlie says, 
"The writers are not poets, in the true sense, and their lan 
guage is not Greek as we have known it." 

The more conspicuous of these later Greek devotional 
writers do not appear until the eighth century. 

Andrew of Crete (660-732), an archbishop, was a very 
voluminous devotional writer. Among his more important 
works are the "Great Canon," 2 the "Triodion," and the 
"Pentecostarion." The "Great Canon" has more than three 
hundred stanzas, illustrating by Scripture examples the feelings 
of a penitent confessing his sins. He is represented in some 
of our hymnals by the hymn, "Christian, dost thou see them?" 
translated by Dr. John Mason Neale and said to be taken from 
the "Great Canon." 

The other hymnists of this century are John of Damascus 
(d.780), his foster-brother Cosmas, the Melodist (d.760), and 
Stephen the Sabaite, his nephew (725-794). 

John of Damascus wrote the best Greek of his generation 
and was most poetical in spirit and style. Gibbon calls him 
the "last of the Greek Fathers." His verse is characterized 
by being written in iambics (the most common measure in 
modern hymns) . His best-known hymn is " Tis the day of 
resurrection," taken from his great Easter canon, styled the 
"Queen of Canons" and the "Golden Canon* 5 by the Greek 

John's foster-brother, Cosmas, survives in the Christmas 
hymn, "Christ is born! exalt his name." Although his canons 
are very thoughtful, his style is often turgid and difficult to 

Stephen the Sabaite, the nephew of John of Damascus, the 
third of this "nest of singing birds" (to use Dr. Gillman's 
phrase), came to Mar Saba as a boy and remained there all his 



life. Dr. Neale found the Inspiration of his hymn "Art 
thou weary, art thou languid?" in some lines of Stephen. 

These three Greek hymn writers were monks in the mon 
astery of San Saba, to be seen to the north from the highway 
between Jerusalem and Jericho, on the rugged heights over 
looking the Jordan valley. 

Another group of Greek hymn writers appears a little later, 
headed by Theodore (759-826) , abbot of the Studium, a great 
monastery at Constantinople. The group was quite con 
troversial, the occasion being not the Deity of Christ, but the 
enforced destruction of ikons, or images. The hymns of this 
group were not all controversial. Theoctistus (c.890), an ob 
scure and later member of it, when the heat of strife had pre 
sumably subsided, could write this devout hymn of praise to 

"Jesu, name all names above, 

Jesu, best and dearest. 
Jesu, fount of perfect love, 
Holiest, tend'rest, nearest. 

Jesu, source of grace completest, 
Jesu purest, Jesu sweetest. 
Jesu, well of power divine, 
Make me, keep me, seal me thine." 

Joseph of the Studium (c.840), because of his many hymns, 
was called the Hymnographer. He wrote too much to write 
well. His work is characterized as tautological, tawdry, tedi 
ous. Three of his hymns, however, had enough suggestive- 
ness to inspire Dr. Neale to write "Let our choir new anthems 
raise," "O happy band of pilgrims," and "Safe home, safe 
home in port." Dr. Neale's pump seems to have needed but 
slight priming to bring up stirring lyrics from the deepest 
spiritual experiences and emotions! 

The most striking characteristic of the Greek hymnody is its 
sheer objectivity. It is self-forgetful in its rapt, ecstatic con- 



templation of the doctrines and facts of the Christian faith. 
It Is never experiential or self-analytical except when it 
confesses sin and unworthiness. The sustained dignity and 
elevation of Its praise and adoration are other admirable traits. 
Its consciousness of God, its unflawed acceptance of Jesus 
Christ as Lord and Saviour, its assurance of the indwelling 
Spirit, give it a liturgical value beyond that of any other 
ancient hyranody. 


-Chapter X- 



THE early disciples in the West were accustomed to use the 
Greek language, as may be gathered from Paul's writing his 
Epistle to the Romans in Greek. It is probable that their 
religious services were largely in that language until there 
were Romans enough added to the churches to make the use 
of Latin necessary. 

That great ode, the "Te Deum," comes to us only in a Latin 
form. The tradition is that it was an antiphon improvised 
by Ambrose and Augustine on the occasion of the latter *s 
baptism, but that is doubtless a hero-worshiping fancy of the 
ninth century. That a good deal of it came from the Greek 
was to be expected and is quite certain, whether the Dacian 
Bishop, Nicetius of Remisiana, gathered up the Greek material 
or not (circa 400) . 

On the other hand, there is no Greek version extant, except 
a much later one which is evidently a translation from the 

It may have been written (or compiled) during the Arian 
controversy as a creedal song to be sung by clerical or monastic 
choirs. It may have grown by gradual accretion, from genera 
tion to generation, like the Easter hymn "Jes us Christ is risen 
today," which, begun in the fourteenth century, was not given 
final form until 1816. 



This magnificent ode, for it is a hymn only by a considerable 
extension of the definition, appears in our modern hymnals 
only as a chant, and is practically never sung in our non- 
liturgical congregations. It has been used as a choral text 
throughout all its history, never as a congregational hymn. It 
has had unnumbered settings by the greatest composers of 

It is the high festival ode of the ages, used in celebrating 
victories or other stately occasions of great public interest. Its 
comprehensiveness, nobility of thought, and elevated style befit 
the coronation of kings or the investiture of popes. For the 
mass of our churches, great as it is, it has only a historical 
interest. It might find impressive use as a responsive reading. 


Bishop Hilary of Poitiers (circa 300-367), "the hammer of the 
Arians," was exiled into Phrygia by Constantius because he 
called the Arian emperor "The Antichrist." In his exile he 
came in touch with the fierce propaganda waged on both 
sides by means of hymns. His controversial zeal recognized 
the opportunity, and he wrote a great many anti-Arian hymns, 
which he gathered on his return to France into his Liber 
Mysteriorum. That his book was lost was no great calamity, 
for his fiery, combative spirit, valuable enough at the time, had 
no message for future generations. He woke a new interest 
in singing and furnished a more practicable model. He un 
doubtedly suggested the antiphonal singing he found in the 
"Hinterland" of Asia Minor and thus prepared the way for 
his fellow-countryman, Ambrose, Bishop of Milan. If the 
latter is recognized as the father of Latin hymnody, and even 
of all the Western hymnody, Catholic and Protestant, Hilary 
is its grandfather. 

Ambrose (340-397) had been a lawyer, not a product of the 
ecclesiastical system, and he brought to his office a freshness 
Df insight and of resources that might have been atrophied 



in the mechanical clerical education o his day. The value of 
song in supporting the spirits of his followers when besieged 
for days in his cathedral suggested to his practical mind, 
stimulated by his musical nature, its wider use when the battle 
was won. 

Ambrose broke new ground for Latin hymnody in several 
essential particulars. He transformed the merely reading 
hymn, confined to the clergy, to a singing hymn for the con 
gregation, writing hymns for the express purpose of pro 
moting congregational song. He passed by the artificial 
classical meters for the simplest of lyrical meters, four lines of 
four iambic measures each, which has come down to us 
through the centuries as Long Meter. He also introduced the 
free use of rhymes. 

Ambrose was not only a learned man of great ability, but 
what is more to our present purpose a man of great piety 
and devotion. He sought to vitalize and actualize the de 
votions, personal and collective, of the Christian Church, to 
make them genuine and heartfelt as against the formalists to 
whom the mere letter is all-important. His hymns are evi 
dences of his spirituality. There is room for stanzas from 
only a few of them: 

"O splendor of the Father's face, 

Affording light from light, 
Thou Light of light, thou fount of grace, 
Thou day of day most bright. 

Thee, in the morn with songs of praise, 

Thee, in the evening time, we seek; 
Thee, through all ages, we adore, 

And suppliant of thy love we speak." 

In spite of the opposition of the Roman See, and the later 
effort of Charlemagne, in his zeal for the Gregorian system, 
to destroy all copies of the Ambrosian hymns and tunes, the 
"Ambrosiani" still keep a small place in the Roman Breviary. 



Among the contemporaries of Ambrose, no hymnist stands 
out more conspicuously than the Spaniard., Prudentius (348- 
424). He also had been a lawyer and a man of affairs. He 
had more literary gifts than Ambrose, and his poems show 
more personality, more charm, more unaffected sincerity. 
Bentley calls him "the Horace and Virgil of the Christians/* 
A single stanza may illustrate his spirit and style: 

"The bird, the messenger of day, 

Cries the approaching light; 
And thus doth Christ, who calleth us, 
Our minds to life excite." 

Mention should be made of Fortunatus (530-609) . He was, 
like the later Marot of psalm-version fame, "the fashionable 
poet of the day," a precursor of the troubadours. Later in life 
he became religious, a priest, an almoner of a monastery, and 
finally Bishop of Poitiers. He wrote a processional to be used 
at the reception of a piece of the true cross presented by Queen 
Rhadegunda. The hymn "Vexilla regis prodeunt" has come 
down the ages. Dr. Neale calls it "one of the grandest in the 
treasury of the Latin church." We make room for the first 
and last stanzas of Dr. Neale's translation: 

"The royal banners forward go; 
The cross shines forth in mystic glow; 
Where he in flesh, our flesh who made, 
Our sentence bore, our ransom paid. 

Hail, altar! Hail, O Victim! Thee 
Decks now thy passion's victory 
Where life for sinners death endured, 
And life, by death, for man procured." 

The influence and power of the Roman hierarchy were 
steadily exercised against the use of hymns and in behalf of 
the sole use of Scripture psalms and canticles. It is a far cry 
from Gregory the Great to John Calvin and John Knox, de 
manding the sole use of canonical material in the services of 



the church; and a like far cry from the Council of Toledo in 
Spain in 633, which made a strong plea for the use of hymns 
in the church's devotions, to Isaac Watts and his prefaces to 
his several collections of modified psalms and of hymns. It 
was only toward the end of the twelfth century that hymns 
of "human composure" were used in Roman churches, and 
then were sung by clerical choirs in the larger basilicas o 
the capital city. The people were still shut out from their use. 

But the impulse to write devotional material for the church 
service persisted. The Venerable Bede (672-735), scholar, 
theologian, philosopher, historian, general encyclopedist, wrote 
both Latin and Anglo-Saxon hymns in his faraway monastery 
at Yarrow, England. Theodulph (d.821), Paulus Diaconus, 
Odo of Cluny, Cardinal Damiana, and other minor hymnists 
wrote hymns, some of which, transformed by skillful trans 
lators, have found use in our day. 

Notker, called Balbulus (850-912), of St. Gall in Eastern 
Switzerland, became weary of the long-drawn-out notes of 
the cadences of the final syllable of the "Alleluia," which was 
prolonged to enable the deacon to ascend to the rood-loft to 
chant the Gospel. It was suggested that a text be supplied, a 
syllable for every note. At first these texts had no metrical 
form and were called Proses. Later they were given a definite 
form and were called sequences, because they followed the 
"Alleluia." These sequences continued to be written for over 
three centuries and were brought to technical perfection by 
Adam of St. Victor. 

These sequences, however, were an evidence of the abiding 
urge for lyrical expression rather than a step in the progressive 
development of the Christian hymn. 


A more important figure in our study of Latin hymns is 
Rabanus Maurus (776-856), archbishop of Mainz, Germany, a 
great scholar, an influential teacher, a profound theologian, a 



voluminous writer, as well as a great hymn writer. He had 
been a notable figure in German church history before hym- 
nological investigators proved that he was the writer of the 
great hymn, "Veni, Creator Spiritus," the worthy successor 
of Fortunatus* "Vexilla regis prodeunt." Its authorship had 
been credited at different times to Ambrose, Gregory the 
Great, Charlemagne, and Notker Balbulus. It is the only 
metrical hymn officially recognized by the early English 
Church. It is sung at high ceremonies like the coronation of 
kings or the consecration of bishops. The accepted version is 
by Bishop Cosin. It appears in our leading hymnals. 

The next bead in our rosary of great hymns is "Veni, Sancte 
Spiritus," by the helpless little paralytic and humpback, Her- 
mannus Contractus (1013-1054). An excellent historian, a 
renowned philosopher and theologian, a mathematician of un 
usual attainments, in short a universal and encyclopedic 
scholar, his chief glory now is that he wrote this hymn which 
Archbishop Trench rated "as the loveliest of all the hymns in 
the whole cycle of Latin sacred poetry." There is space for 
one stanza only, the third of this great hymn : 

"O most blessed Light divine, 
Shine within these hearts of thine, 

And our inmost being fill; 
Where thou art not, man hath naught, 
Nothing good in deed or thought, 
Nothing free from taint of ill." 

The tide of the years had been flowing quietly with only 
here and there rapids or an eddy, but now the current was 
hastening toward the great whirlpool of the Crusades. Hilde- 
bert, Peter the Hermit, Bernard of Clairvaux, Abelard, Peter 
the Venerable, Adam of St. Victor, stand out as lighthouses 
on an uncharted sea. 

Not the least of these was Bernard, the abbot of Clairvaux 
(1091-1153), scholar, orator, statesman, and man of affairs, of 
whom Archbishop Trent declares: "Probably no man during 



his lifetime ever exercised a personal influence in Christendom 
equal to his; the stayer o popular commotions, the queller of 
heresies, the umpire between princes and kings, the counsellor 
of popes." This does not suggest the writer of such a hymn 
as "J esu dulcis memoria," 1 the tenderest, sweetest sacred lyric 
of the Middle Ages. But he was credited with it for centuries 
until it was found in a manuscript of the eleventh century and 
there credited to a Spanish Benedictine abbess, an origin more 
consonant with its spirit and with its finished Latinity. Would 
we knew more about her, this medieval precursor of Anne 
Steele, Sarah F. Adams, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Elizabeth 
P. Prentiss, and Fanny Crosby! Dr. S. W. Duffield holds 
"Bernard to be the real author of the modern hymn the 
hymn of faith and worship"; but now the iconoclastic modern 
hymnologist denies him even the authorship of the "Salve 
Caput Cruentatum." 2 

We know very little about the other Bernard, who was a 
monk in the greater abbacy of Cluny; but his authorship of 
the great indictment of the Roman church of his time, "De 
Contemptu Mundi," is undoubted. His great poem of three 
thousand lines 3 occupied itself with the vice and moral filth 
which his pure soul detested. In his disgust with the moral 
ordure in which his feet were immersed, he suddenly takes 
wing and rises to the heights to contemplate "the Heavenly 
Land." Dr. Neale, out of scattered lines and phrases of the 
original, with additions of his own, constructed the wondrous 
mosaics which we delight to sing: "Brief life is here our por 
tion," "Jerusalem, the Golden," "For thee, O dear, dear coun 

One thinks of Thomas Aquinas (12274274) as the Aristo 
telian logician, the profound Augustinian theologian, the 
philosopher, the invincible protagonist of medieval orthodoxy, 
rather than as a hymn writer; yet some of our present-day 
hymnals contain two communion hymns of profound thought 
and deep feeling written by him. "Pange, lingua, glorioso" is 



perhaps the finer; here is one stanza of Edward Caswell's 

"Now, my tongue, the mystery telling 

O the glorious body sing. 
And the blood, all price excelling 

Which the Gentile's Lord and King 
Once on earth amongst us dwelling 

Shed for this world's ransoming." 

The other, "Lauda, Sion, Salvatorem," has been rendered by 
Alexander R. Thompson, as follows: 

"Zion, to thy Saviour singing, 
To thy Prince and Shepherd bringing 
Sweetest hymns of love and praise, 
Thou wilt never reach the measure 
Of thy most ecstatic lays." 


We now reach the consideration of hymns and poems of 
great excellence in themselves but without the appeal, or prac 
ticability as hymns, possessed by the foregoing. Some of them 
appear in liturgical hymnals, or in more formal hymnals of 
non-liturgical churches, but their use is limited. 

Among these is Francis of Assisi's "Canticle of the Sun/ 5 4 
not a hymn, but a psalm of praise for all created things. For 
our day it has chiefly literary and antiquarian interest. 

His follower and biographer, Thomas of Celano (P-1255), 
however, wrote a sequence or hymn that has intrigued the 
interest of generation after generation. Mozart's "Requiem" 
uses parts of it as its text. Goethe introduces it in his "Faust." 
Unnumbered translations of it have been made into all civi 
lized languages. Theodore Parker called it the "damnation 
lyric." In the original "Dies irae" there were eighteen stanzas. 
The version of W. J. Irons has fourteen stanzas of three Hues 
each, a few of which follow: 



"Day of Wrath 1 O day of mourning! 

See fulfilled the prophets* warning, 

Heaven and earth in ashes burning! 

Oh, what fear man's bosom rendeth, 
When from heaven the Judge descended^ 
On whose sentence all dependeth." 

Sir Walter Scott's version is in four-line stanzas, three o which 
are used to make a practicable hymn. But who in our self- 
complacent age cares to sing any of these versions, portraying 
"The Last Judgment"? 

Another famous hymn, written by a follower of Francis of 
Assisi, perhaps Jacopone da Todi, "the fool for Christ's sake/* 
is the "Stabat Mater Dolorosa." It celebrates the sufferings, 
not of Christ on the cross, but of Mary, his mother, standing 
at its foot. It is the supreme Mariolatrous hymn in sentiment 
and in diction. It is Roman, of course, not Catholic, and 
interests us only as marking the sincerity and the depth of the 
medieval sentiment and devotion to the Madonna. 

This great hymn is noteworthy because of the many trans 
lations into modern languages which have been made, seventy- 
eight into German alone and as many more into English, in 
whole or in part. Its emotional possibilities have appealed to 
many music composers, including Palestrina, Pergolesi, 
Haydn, Rossini, and Dvorak settings varied in style from 
Palestrina's high dignity to Rossini's almost theatrical treat 

It must be remembered that the Greek hymns of the Eastern 
church, and the Latin hymns of the Western, were not in 
dead languages, as they appear to us, but in living languages, 
the vernacular of the persons producing and using them. 
While the common people may have spoken a different dia 
lect, the monks and clergy used the classic speech as a very 
mother tongue. The hymns were for the most part a perfectly 
spontaneous expression of religious conviction and feeling, a 



living product of vital experience, an instinctive expression of 
profound faith. 

In closing this rapid survey of a thousand years of Greek 
and Latin hymns, one is impressed that they are all clerical 
even monastic in type and character. There are in many of 
them spontaneity, genuine feeling, and personal experience, 
a profound sense of spiritual realities; yet over all of them falls 
the shadow of the tonsured ecclesiastic, with his heart set on 
the impressiveness of the forms of worship rather than on 
the ultimate result in creating spiritual reactions in the in 
dividuals of the congregation. 


Although the hymns whose origin we have been tracing were 
used in enriching the services of the Roman Church, and 
for guiding the meditations and devotions of the clerical 
spiritually-minded readers, we get hints of a people's hymnody 
used privately and in public processions, usually in the com 
mon speech of the region. It was the age of the Troubadours, 
a time of universal song. It is unthinkable that a people in 
whose lives religion was a commanding influence should have 
no songs of their own about it. 

But among the Albigenses and Waldenses and other pietistic 
sects in remoter regions there must have been a hymnody all 
their own. They had no clergy, no connection with the 
Romish Church were in utter opposition to its forms and 
organization. Hence their natural impulse for worship and 
praise compelled the creation of hymns of their own. They 
were spontaneous utterances expressing their spiritual life in a 
native vocabulary all could understand and appropriate. 

Although this people's hymnody has perished, because it 
was produced and used by the populace and contemptuously 
ignored or denounced by the clerical custodians of the litera 
ture of their day, or by those of succeeding generations, the 
hymns were widely sung in the homes, on the streets, at popu- 



lar religious festivals, and even in the remoter village churches 
where the clerical choirs were wanting. 

It was these popular religious songs, rather than the more 
stately hymns read and chanted by clerical and monastic 
choirs, that kept alive the vital spark of religious feeling and 
devotion to Christ. If most of the doves of song hovered over 
the head of the Madonna during this long period, it was be 
cause she was the mother of Jesus. It was as the representative 
of all motherhood that she brought home the true manhood 
of our Lord. 

That this popular hymnody of the medieval period has 
failed to survive is no proof of its worthlessness. It is no 
condemnation of the sermons of Chrysostom, of Peter the 
Hermit, of Martin Luther, or of a thousand sermons preached 
every Sunday that they perish with the breath that gave them 
utterance. They served a good purpose in their brief hour. 
That hundreds of Watts* hymns, and thousands by Charles 
Wesley, are no longer sung, does not establish their uselessness, 
but only that their spiritual as well as verbal idiom is not 
adapted to the needs of our day. 





WHILE there has been a traceable logical progress in the de 
velopment of the Christian hymn, as in that of material 
creation, the generative relations are not always clear. The 
link between Greek and Latin hymnody may be found in 
Hilary of Poitiers in the fourth century, but thereafter for 
five centuries they developed side by side along independent 

The same may be said regarding the Latin and German 
hymns, Luther furnishing the connection. But his connection 
is not so apparent with the clerical Latin hymn as with the 
general impulse toward the vernacular hymn. 

Luther did not directly build upon the Latin hymns, al 
though he did translate a few of them, but on the popular 
songs and hymns that were current in his day. Since the 
eleventh century vernacular hymns and religious songs had 
been in private use. The Gregorian rule that Scripture psalms 
and canticles only should be sung in public services had been 
strictly enforced in the monasteries and larger centers; but 
even there the proses and sequences had been allowed in 
Latin, of course. The first hymns sung in the common speech 
were enlargements of the short responses allowed the people, 
"Kyrie eleison" and "Christe eleison" being surviving Greek 
phrases which were used as refrains to the stanzas of the 



hymns. They were called "Leisen," or "Leichen." Our Eng 
lish word "lay" is a derivative from the same source. Many 
of these "Leisen" mingled German and Latin words. 

Back of the wrong conception of the way of salvation and 
the fanaticism expressed in self-torture, the Flagellant Monks 
of the later medieval period had an intensity of conviction 
and a selfless devotion that inevitably found expression in 
song. Bands of them made pilgrimages through Christian 
lands in processions, singing hymns to Mary and her Son in 
the common speech, little recking that they were helping 
to fertilize the soil from which should spring the Great Re 

When King Conrad was anointed in 1024, our information 
is that "joyfully they marched, the clergy singing in Latin, the 
people in German, each after his own fashion"; but this was 
not a church service; it was a festival procession. 

Vernacular hymns became more and more numerous during 
the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. The troubadours and 
minnesingers could not but stimulate their production, fur 
nishing the metrical and rhythmical models and no small part 
of the hymns themselves, especially those glorifying the divine 
motherhood of Mary. The monks, the custodians of the 
literary and scholarly product of this age, had no motive for 
making a record of these hymns, much less of their tunes, for 
which, indeed, no adequate system of notation existed; hence 
but little of this popular hymnody survives. It was not until 
Gutenberg brought in the age of printing that some of it was 
handed down to us. 1 

The great mystic, John Tauler (1290-1361), a Dominican 
monk of Strassburg, and others, wrote hymns of profound 
personal religious experience that were widely sung. John 
Huss of Prague (13694415), the renowned Bohemian martyr, 
wrote hymns in both Czech and Latin. In 1501 and 1505 
Czech hymnbooks were issued, the first congregational hymn- 
books in tke vernacular, the latter containing no less than 



four hundred hymns, while Luther's first collection, in 1524, 
nineteen years later, contained only eight. 

It will be seen that the foundations of vernacular singing 
by the people, with popular tunes, had been laid, deep and 
wide, foundations on which Luther could later build his Ger 
man hymnody. In almost every patricular he had been antici 
pated by the Bohemian reformers, in vernacular hymns and 
psalms, in the use of the people's tunes, in the revision of 
hymns current among the Catholics. by discarding their wor 
ship of Mary and the saints in the emphasis placed on music 
as a vehicle for conveying Gospel truths and for the intensi 
fying of the needed propaganda. 

In France, in England and Scotland, in the Netherlands, 
the same impulses were felt. The fullness of the times had 
been prepared, and the great protagonist and organizer of 
the spiritual revolt against the hierarchy of Rome made of the 
hymn, which the ecclesiastical builders had rejected, one of the 
cornerstones of the new Church. 


Luther's objective in regard to the hymn was entirely different 
from that of these representatives of traditional worship. He 
did not have in mind the perfecting of a liturgical service on 
the lines of ecclesiastical tradition, but the spiritual edification 
of the mass of the people whom the liturgic monks had been 
ignoring. While too appreciative of the Latin liturgy to cast 
aside psalms and canticles, as well as sequences, he rejected 
them as models for his hymns, and his creative impulse made 
the more appealing and practical folk songs his basis of form 
and spirit. 

Luther was a great lover of poetry and music. In his 
youth he went about singing in the streets and in private 
homes. He knew both the popular and the churchly music 
and was well prepared for his future post of liaison officer be 
tween the Latin and the coming German hymnody. 



His great work in hymnody is that he took both the psalm 
and the hymn from the clergy, put them into the vernacular 
in metrical form, with popular tunes, and restored them to the 
people. He added to the function of the hymn as worship 
those of instruction, meditation, and exhortation. He added 
an entirely new dimension to the value of the hymn, making 
it a means of creating a religious atmosphere for the whole 
life of the Christian personal, family, community. He made 
the German people a singing people and laid the foundations 
for their later musical pre-eminence. As Dr. Benson says, 
"He took it [the hymn] out of the liturgies and put it into 
the people's hearts and homes. He revived, that is to say, 
Paul's conception of hymnody as a spiritual function." 2 

Luther's hymns are the root out of which grew all our 
Protestant hymnody. They are like Ambrose's in their plain 
ness but, owing to their popular models, are superior in their 
metrical variety and in their cheerfulness. They are purposely 
cheerful: "When we sing, both heart and mind should be 
cheerful and merry." They had also a more definite evan 
gelical content, both objective and subjective, more personal 
experience, more exhortation, thus immensely widening the 
horizon of the hymn. Much of this was doubtless due to the 
Hussite influence. 

Luther anticipated Isaac Watts in demanding that the 
psalm should be transformed into a hymn, retaining its im 
portant subject matter, but excluding "certain forms of expres 
sion and employing other suitable ones.'* 

The most important characteristic of the hymns of Luther 
and his associates was the burden of biblical truth. "What 
I wish is to make German hymns for this people, that the 
Word of God may dwell in their hearts by means of song 
also," gives us his ideal and his practical purpose. 

Luther's hymns bear the characteristics of their writer. They 
were straightforward, clear, and unpretentious, full of force 
and strong of conviction. He was no poet He was not con- 



scions of literary impulses. His diction often is more forcible 
than elegant. Indeed, he was a peasant within whose horizon 
the elegant did not appear. Dr. Philip Schajff says of him: 
"He had an extraordinary faculty of expressing profound 
thought in the clearest language. In this gift he is not sur 
passed by any uninspired writer; and herein lies the secret of 
his power. . . . His style is racy, forcible, and idiomatic." 

Lord Selborne, an English hymnologist, remarks on Luther's 
hymns, "Homely and sometimes rugged in form, and for the 
most part objective in tone, they are full of fire, manly sim 
plicity, and strong faith." 

Luther wrote thirty-eight hymns. Twelve of them were 
based on Latin hymns, among others, "Veni, Redemptor 
gentium," "Veni, Creator Spiritus," "O Lux beata Trinitas," 
and "Te Deum Laudamus"; four were rewritten pre- 
Reformation hymns; seven were versions of Latin psalms; six 
were paraphrases of other portions of Scripture, such as the 
Ten Commandments and the Lord's Prayer; nine were origi 
nal hymns. 

Nine collections were issued by Luther, beginning with the 
Buch," the first evangelical hymnbook in the 

It contained but eight 
hymns, four by Luther, threebyPaul Speratus, court chaplain 
at Koenigsberg, and one of unknown authorship. Later in 
the year it was increased to twenty-five hymns, bringing four 
teen new hymns by Luther; it was called the "Erfurt En 
chiridion." During this year, 1524, he wrote twenty-one of his 
thirty-eight hymns. Five years later, 1529, he issued another 
hymnbook containing fifty-four hymns. The issue of 1553, 
seven years after his death, contained one hundred and thirty- 
one hymns. Three of these nine issues had prefaces, as note 
worthy as those of Watts to ,his several books of psalms and 
hymns in formulating the principles of the new Christian 

Luther's masterpiece, "Ein' feste Burg ist unser Gott" ("A 


mighty fortress Is our God") 5 is based on thefortjr-sixth 
It is one of the greatest Tiym^^ whoIe'^CE 

hymnody, great in itself, great in its influence on the Protes 
tantism of northern Europe. Ranke, the noted church his 
torian, says: "It is the production of the moment in which 
Luther, engaged in a conflict with a world of foes, sought 
strength in a consciousness that he was defending a divine 
cause, which could never perish." Carlyle recognized its 
majesty, "a sound of Alpine avalanches, or the first murmurs 
of earthquakes." Calling up the inspiration it brought to the 
Protestant armies, German and Swedish, in the religious wars 
after the Reformation, Heine characterized it as "the Mar 
seillaise of the Reformation." It has been recognized as the 
national hymn of Protestant Germany. 

A number of translations into English have been made. 
Carlyle successfully reproduces its rugged strength in his ver 
sion, but for congregational use the translation of Rev. 
Frederick H. Hedge, made in 1853, is more practicable. 

Luther's tune is worthy of the text in its ponderous majesty. 
A small congregation, or a larger one that does not know it 
very well, can do little withjt;jonly aJbrge_co^gregLtion sing 
ing lustily and in the charactensH^lly German slow tempo 

His Christmas hymn, "Vom Himmel hoch da komm' ich 
her" ("From heaven above to earth I come"), his praise of 
Jesus Christ, "Gelobet seist du, Jesu Christ" ("All praise to 
Thee, eternal Lord"), a revision of a pre-Reforrnation popular 
hymn, and his doctrinal hymn, rejoicing over the salvation 
wrought out by Jesus Christ, "Nun freuet euch, lieb' Christen 
G'mein" ("Dear Christian people, now rejoice"), have been 
very much beloved and were very effective in building up the 
Protestant cause. 

Luther deserves well of the Christian Church, not only be 
cause of his own hymns, but because of the inspiration he 
afforded others among his contemporaries, and to the gcn- 



erations since his day, to take up the writing of hymns. 
Among the co-laborers in this field in his own generation 
were Justus Jonas, Paul Eber, Erasmus Alber, Lazarus 
Spengler, Paul Speratus, and Nicolaus Decius. Luther fur 
nished the idea, the inspiration, and the model for all these 
hymnists. According to Koch, fifty-one writers contributed 
hymns to swell the Lutheran hymnody between 1517 and 

As was to be expected, the early German hymnody was also 
enriched by a number of excellent hymns from the Bohemian 
Brethren. They were translated by Michael Weiss and Johann 
Roh, German ministers who had been associated with them. 

No small part of the immediate success of Luther's hymns 
was the tunes which he provided. He used the melodies al 
ready current among the people. He had providentially as 
sociated with him musical helpers like Johann Walther and 
Ludwig Senfl, who did the musical editorial work on his 
issues. His settings of his "Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott" and 
"Gelobet seist du, Jesu Christ" are still a valuable part of the 
melodic treasury of the Christian Church. 





AFTER Luther's death, the impetus of his hymnic influence 
gradually lost its evangelical force, and a more self-consciously 
literary coterie raised both the literary and musical standards. 
Prominent among them was Bartolomaeus Ringwaldt (1530- 
1598) , who wrote "Es ist gewisslich an der Zeit" the German 
"Dies Irae" which probably suggested the English hymn, 
"Great God! what do I see and hear?" He was a very fertile 
writer. Equally fertile was Nicolaus Selnecker (1530-1592), 
who wrote nearly one hundred and fifty hymns. 

More important than either was Philipp Nicolai (1556- 
1608), a Westphalian pastor, whose "Wie schoen leuchtet der 
Morgenstern" ("O Morning Star, how fair and bright") and 
"Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme" ("Sleepers, wake, a voice 
is calling") have been and are the most widely used of all 
German hymns outside of Luther's two masterpieces. Nicolai 
wrote them while a great pestilence was raging in Unna, dur 
ing which fourteen hundred persons perished. He wrote the 
hymns for his own comfort and that of his people. He also 
wrote the chorales to which they are sung and which have 
been called respectively the "Queen" and "King" of German 
chorales. On the basis of their intrinsic value rather than on 
that of adaptation to American spirit and type of church life, 
they occasionally appear in our hymnals, but they are rarely 



or never sung. Miss Winkworth's translation of the "King" 
may be judged by the first stanza: 

"Wake, awake, the night is flying; 
The watchmen on the heights are crying, 

Awake, Jerusalem, at last! 
Midnight hears the welcome voices. 
And at the thrilling cry rejoices; 
Come forth, ye virgins, night is past! 
The Bridegroom comes, awake. 
Your lamps with gladness take; 


And for his marriage-feast prepare, 
For ye must go to meet him there." 

This chorale was used by Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy as 
one of the climaxes of his great oratorio, "St. Paul." 

The popular "Te Deum" of Germany, "Nun danket alle 
Gott" ("Now thank we all our God"), was written by Martin 
Rinkart (1586-1649). Miss Winkworth's version is found in 
most modern hymnals and deserves wide use, for it is entirely 
practicable in a congregation of average size. Mendelssohn 
used this chorale in his cantata "Lobgesang" with much ef 
fectiveness. This great hymn was written at the conclusion 
of the horrible and disastrous Thirty Years' War. Michael 
Altenburg (1584-1640) wrote the famous battle hymn of 
Gustavus Adolphus with which the great Warrior King has 
been credited; "Verzage nicht, du Haeuflein klein" (Fear not, 
O little flock, the foe") is still used in Germany. However, 
Luther's "Bin* feste Burg ist unser Gott" was the more usual 
battle hymn, as Altenburg's hymn was not introduced until 
late in Gustavus Adolphus* campaigns indeed, has been 
called his "Swan song." Martin Opitz (1597-1639) deserves 
mention as a valuable influence in regulating the meters and 
in stressing poetical values. One of the immortal hymns 
written during this period was that of Georg Neumark 
(1621-1681), librarian of the Duke of Weimar, "Wer nur den 



lieben Gott laesst waken" ("If thou but suffer God to guide 
thee"). Other hymn writers during this distressful period 
were Johann Heermann (15854647), who wrote distinctive 
hymns of prayer in a correct style and good versification; 
Johann Rest (1607-1667), who wrote six hundred and eighty 
hymns intended to cover the whole domain of theology (two 
hundred of which were in common use in the German 
churches); and Matthaeus Apelles von Loewenstein (1594- 
1648), Johannes Matthaeus Meyfart (15904642), and Paul 
Fleming (16094640). 

This was a period of tribulation, calamity, and desperation, 
which, as Miss Winkworth remarks, "caused religious men to 
look away from this world" and led to a more subjective type 
of hymn, expressing personal feeling. In general, the literary 
value of the hymns of this period, in form and diction and 
imagination, exceeded that of those of the previous generation. 


The spiritual deepening of this age of sorrow, the widening 
of the scope of the hymn by the inclusion of more subjective 
elements, and the literary advance in the structure and diction 
were preparing the way for the Golden Age of German 
hymnody which followed the conclusion of the great religious 
war. It extended from Paul Gerhardt (1604-1676) to Chris 
tian Fuerchtegott Gellert (17154769). 

Gerhardt had spent his young manhood amid the desolation 
and difficulties of the Thirty Years' War. He did not enter 
the ministry until he was nearly fifty years old, having written 
no hymns up to that time. A great preacher and a devoted 
pastor, he was a man of deep piety and of unflinching loyalty 
to the truth, as it was given to him to see it. As calamity 
followed calamity, under strict divine discipline in preparation 
for his great work in the writing of hymns, not only for the 
German church, but also for the whole Christian world, he 
united in himself the two tendencies, the one of viewing God 



and divine things in an objective way, characteristic o the 
early Lutheran hymns, and the other, the expression o the 
emotion produced by such contemplation in the heart of the 
Christian, characteristic of the subsequent period. He had 
the body of the older hymnody and the spirit of the new. 

Moreover, Gerhardt was a poet. Indeed, his writings were 
extensive lyrics rather than hymns. Some of them have fur 
nished several hymns. He was the Keble of German 
hymnody, and his influence upon subsequent hymn writing 
has been most helpful. There is a poetic fertility in the man 
lacking in his predecessors. 

He wrote one hundred and twenty-three hymns, of which 
Dr. Philip Schaff declares that they "are among the noblest 
pearls in the treasury of sacred poetry." They are of such 
uniform excellence that it is difficult to select those of out 
standing merit. "Befiehl du deine Wege" ("Give to the winds 
thy fears") was translated by John Wesley. "O Jesu Christ, 
mein schoenstes Licht" ("Jesus, thy boundless love to me") is 
another most successful translation by the same hand. "O 
Haupt voll Blut und Wunden" ("O sacred head, now 
wounded") leans hard on "Salve, caput cruentatum," but has 
a spirituality the older hymn does not so fully display. Thirty 
of his hymns are in general use in the German churches, and 
Germany recognizes him as her prince of hymnists, superior 
even to Luther. 

Gerhardt's contemporaries, John Franck (1618-1677) and 
John Scheffler (1624-1677), while fairly prominent do not com 
pare with him in thoughtfulness and literary felicity. Both 
are more pietistic. The latter has a somewhat exuberant 
style, intense and enthusiastic. John Wesley translated and 
adopted one hymn known to our hymnals as "Thee will I 
love, my strength, my tower." 

In the latter decades of the seventeenth century, Philipp 



Jacob Spener, August Hermann Francke, and Johann An- 
astasius Freylinghausen led a strong movement of protest, 
called Pietism, against the arid scholasticism and cold formal 
ism of the Lutheran church. It was a second Reformation, 
emphasizing piety and sincere emotionalism. It postponed 
the blight of Rationalism for a few decades and led a genera 
tion into a devouter, more genuine, religious life. 

Spener was a great leader and a good man, but no hymn 
writer; Francke wrote but few hymns, and so this phase of 
their work devolved on Freylinghausen. He was full of spirit, 
with attractive rhythms and florid music. His songs were very 
popular, but lacked permanent merit. Other writers of this 
school were Schade, Schutz, and Rodigast. 

Less immediately connected with the Pietistic movement, 
but under its influence, are Hiller of South Germany, Arnold, 
a professor at the University of Giessen, and Tersteegen of 
Westphalia, a mystic, all of whom wrote very acceptable 
hymns. Tersteegen was highly appreciated by John Wesley, 
who translated his "Gott rufet noch; sollt* ich nicht endlich 
hoeren?" ("God calling yet! shall I not hear?"). "Gott ist 
gegenwaertig! lasset uns anbeten" ("Lo! God is here; let us 
adore") and "Jedes Herz will etwas lieben" ("Something every 
heart is loving") are others found translated in current hym 
nals. Lord Selborne speaks of him as "of all the more copious 
German hymn writers after Luther, perhaps the most remark 
able man, pietist, mystic, and missionary, he was also a great 
religious poet." That he was a layman makes his religious 
life all the more remarkable. 

A more widely known and striking personality was Count 
von Zinzendorf (1700-1760), a very devout but somewhat 
erratic man. He became the patron saint of the Moravian 
church and shared perhaps created its zeal for foreign mis 
sions. He spent some time in the United States, in eastern 
Pennsylvania, and in the West Indies, doing evangelistic 
work. He wrote two thousand religious lyrics, disfigured to a 



large extent by extravagances and by repulsive materialistic 
similes and phrases. His associate and successor, Bishop 
August Gottlieb Spangenberg, long resident in America, and 
Bishop Christian Gregor also wrote very useful hymns. The 
Moravian hymnody is all the more noteworthy in that it had 
a great influence over the hymnic work of the Wesleys. 

The Reformed Church in Germany long followed Calvin 
in exclusively using the Psalms of David, but finally felt the 
impulse of the Lutheran hymnody. Tersteegen, mentioned 
above, leaned to this branch of the German church, although 
not officially connected with it. Joachim Neander (1650-1680), 
a Reformed minister at Bremen, wrote some extremely 
valuable and popular hymns of praise and was called the 
Psalmist of the New Covenant. Among his best are "Sieh, 
hier bin Ich, Ehren-Koenig" ("Behold me here in grief draw 
near* 9 ), "Lobe den Herren, den maechtigen Koenig der Ehren" 
("Praise to the Lord! He is King over all the creation*'), 
"Unser Herrscher, unser Koenig" ("Sovereign Ruler, King 
victorious"), still sung in every pious home in Germany. 

The transitional personality between this Pietistic and the 
succeeding Rationalistic era, was Christian F. Gellert (1715- 
1769), a professor in Leipzig University* He was a man of 
sincere piety; he was a teacher, not only in the classroom, but 
in all his literary efforts. He wrote moral Tales and Fables, 
Moral Poems, Didactic Poems, as well as Sacred Odes and 
Hymns. There were fifty-four of these, all in the same didac 
tic style. .They lacked the rugged strength o Luther, the 
poetical element of Gerhardt, and the mystic insight of Ter- 
steegen; but this very matter-of-factness made his writings im 
mensely popular. Of all his hymns, but one survives in oiir 
modern hymnals, his Easter hymn, "J^ 118 lebt, mit ihm auch 
ich" ("Jesus lives, no longer now"). 




German hymnody suddenly fell from Its exalted Pietistic 
rhapsodies into a crass materialism. Dr. Philip SchafT gives a 
vivid glimpse into the situation: "He (Klopstock) was fol 
lowed by a swarm o hymnological tinkers and poetasters who 
had no sympathy with the theology and poetry of the grand 
old hymns of faith; weakened, diluted, mutilated, and watered 
them, and introduced these misimprovements into the church 
es. ... Conversion and sanctification were changed into self- 
improvement, piety into virtue, heaven into the better world, 
Christ into Christianity, God into Providence, Providence into 
fate. The people were compelled to sing rhymed sermons on 
the existence of God, the immortality of the soul, the delights 
of reunion, the dignity of man, the duty of self -improvement, 
the nurture of the body, and the care of animals and flowers.** 
There is no poetical, much less religious, lyrical impulse in 
rationalism, and the church lyrics of this period have left little 
impress on the hymnody of the Christian Church. It was the 
classic period of German literature, but it had few Christian 
elements in it. Athens and Rome, not Jerusalem, were the 
centers of intellectual interest; and it might almost be said 
that it is a pagan literature. "" 


As in the immediate pre-Reformation age, in spite of the 
decadence of religious Hfe among the Roman Catholic leaders, 
there was a semi-submerged piety that forced the Reformation 
inside the church; so in this recrudescence of paganism in the 
German church, there was a great body of earnest, pious 
Christians who kept the spirit of true German devoutness 

These were represented by Friedrich Gottlieb Klopstock 
(1724-1803), who, although he set the disastrous fashion of 
rewriting the older hymns in order to improve their literary 



value by removing archaisms and harsh lines, was yet a devout 
man, writing the great German epic "Messias" and also some 
deeply religious hymns that were too poetic for the common 
people. Another devout writer was Johann Kasper Lavater 
(1741-1801), better known by his treatise on physiognomy, who 
wrote some hymns after the style of Klopstock, but with 
greater popular success, for his "O suessester der Namen all" 
("O aame than every name more dear") has been translated 
and used in English hymnals. 

When the first intoxication of the new freedom from 
churchly, and even moral, restraint passed away, the German 
church again found able representatives to give expression to 
its religious life. Friedrich von Hardenberg (17724801), also 
called "Novalis," a mining engineer of fine literary ability, 
wrote some hymns of deep feeling and beautiful style. Fried- 
rich de la Motte Fouque (17774843), chiefly known as the 
author of Undine, and as an outstanding representative of the 
Romantic school in literature, wrote some very beautiful 
hymns, including two missionary hymns of great excellence. 
There is a literary and imaginative charm in these hymns, as 
in his general German style, that betrays his Huguenot hered 
ity. Both these writers had the literary emphasis that somewhat 
discounted the value of their hymns for the common people. 
They stand, however, as landmarks of the subsidence of the 
rationalistic period in German hymnody. 


In the reaction from Rationalism, Pietism again came into its 
own and a noble roster of sacred lyrists have given it expres 
sion. This includes Ernst Moritz Arndt, professor of history 
at the University of Bonn, whose "Wahres Christentum" was 
as necessary to every Christian home as the Bible itself, a 
patriot who won the hatred and persecution of Napoleon 
Bonaparte by his patriotic songs, and whose hymns are no 
small part of the treasury of later German hymnody. Among 



them are "Ich weiss, an wen ich glaube" ("I know In whom 
I put my trust") > which is one of the German classics. 

Friedrlch Adolf Krummacher (17674845) Is best remem 
bered by his hymn "Mag auch die Liebe weinea" ("Though 
love may weep with breaking heart") and his missionary 
hymn, "Eine Herde und ein Hrt" ("One shepherd and one 
fold to be"). Still others are Friedrich Ruckert (1789-1866) 
whom Dr. Schaff calls "one of the greatest masters o lyric 
poetry," Albert Knapp (1798-1864), editor of the outstanding 
critical collection of German hymns, "Der Liederschatz," and 
writer of many widely used hymns, and Meta Heusser- 
Schweizer (1797-1876), of Switzerland, "the most eminent and 
noble among all the female poets of our whole evangelical 
Church." I 

The primate of them all is Karl Johann Philipp Spitta (1801- 
1859), "the most popular hymnist of the nineteenth century," 
The fifty-fifth edition of his Psalter und Harfe appeared in 
1889. He was an Hanoverian pastor. He had been under 
rationalistic teachers at the University of Goettingen, but to 
ward the end of his university course had a profound religious 
experience that affected all his future life; he wrote no secular 
verse after that time. He was recognized as a mystic and 
pietist and his promotion was antagonized on that ground. 

Many of his hymns have been translated into English. 
Among the most successful are "O Jesu, rneine Sonne" ("I 
know no life divided"), "Es kennt der Herr die Seinen" ("He 
knoweth all His people"), "O selig Haus, wo man dich 
aufgenonimen" ("O happy home, where thou art loved the 
dearest")., "O treuer Heiland, Jesu Christ" ("We praise and 
bless thee, gracious Lord"). 

CjSpitta may be called "the Gerhardt of the nineteenth cen 
tury," for he has many of that great hymn writer's qualities as 
well as his popularity. He was sincerely devout, a man of an 
abiding sense of God's care and nearness; his style is smooth 
and melodious as well as poetical. 



Spitta's hymns are very practical in length and form of 
stanza, and his themes grow out of the common needs and 
experiences of general humanity. For this reason they have 
been very largely translated into English no less than thirty- 
three o them and, what is more significant, selected by 
editors of hymnals, especially in England. 

Karl von Gerok (1815-?) is another exceedingly popular 
religious lyrist of the nineteenth century, hardly second to 
Spitta. His "Palm-blaetter," issued in 1857, reached its fifty- 
sixth edition in 1886. By this time it has likely reached the 
century mark. But his verses are religious poetry, not hymns, 
and but a few centos have been admitted to German hymn- 

Recently the new rationalism and sensual materialism have 
again submerged the religious life of Germany and the im 
pulse to write hymns has lost its urgency. Whether the 
shattering of the illusion of world-wide power, and the sober 
ing effect of its terrible losses of men and of wealth, will 
bring Germany back to her religious senses must be patiently 
awaited by those eager for her highest welfare. The recrudes 
cence of paganism and its threat of renewed striving after 
world dominance need not blast this pious hope. God's hand 
is still on the tiller of the German national bark, and the 
heart of the German people is not represented by the bulletins 
on the surface of its current events, caused by the pride of 
nationalism In the shallow vocal stratum that stridently claims 
the world's attention. 

In this hurried review of the development of the German 
hymn from Luther to Spitta much that is interesting and 
profitable has been omitted. But it is manifest that this Ger 
man hymnody holds the supreme place in the hymnody of 
the Christian Church in all ages and nations. The reasons 
for this lie on the surface: the German people are a singing 
people, and the instinct to sing their thoughts and feelings is 
stronger than in any other race. Again, they did not lose two 



centuries under the spell of Calvin's devotion to the Hebrew 
Psalms, as did Great Britain and America. In contrast with 
the Latin and Greek hymnodies, it is the voice of the people, 
not the restrained liturgical voice of the clergy, 

The German hymnody is often ponderous and heavy, often 
tediously prolix and dull, but at the heart of it is a profound 
realization of the actualities of the Christian faith, and a re 
sponsiveness to its appeals to the hearts of men, that one cannot 
find elsewhere to the same extent. 





WHILE Luther recognized the value of hymns as pre-eminent 
in his work, he still left a large place for the Psalms, himself 
making some admirable versions and inciting others to do the 
same. But there were limits to his sympathy with an undue 
and merely formal emphasis of them. He canceled the obli 
gation of repeating the whole Psalter once a week, instituted 
by Cardinal Quimonez, as "a donkey's burden." Luther was 
a reformer, changing only what needed changing in order to 
secure a deeper spirituality. Calvin and Zwingli were not 
reformers, but re-creators, setting wholly aside all the liturgy, 
the ecclesiastical organization, the clerical rules, and the dis 
tinctive doctrines of the Roman church, and building up an 
entirely new church with no other sanction than their inter 
pretation of the Word of God. 

Perhaps unconsciously, Calvin harked back to the Roman 
attitude of Gregory the Great, in insisting on purely Scriptural 
sources for the service of song. He was too good a Biblical 
scholar not to know that the Apostolic Church used "hymns 
and spiritual songs" as well as Psalms; indeed he never 
categorically forbade hymns of "human composure." But the 
people had been forbidden the Bible. The Psalms had been 



sung by the clergy alone In an already dead language. Calvin 
declared that "If a man sang in an unknown tongue, he might 
as well be a linnet or a popinjay/' So he reacted somewhat 
violently. He had a profound sense of the authority of the 
Word of God, and his mind was possessed by the idea of the 
divine sovereignty; hence religious rites of human origin 
seemed trifling and negligible. 

This attitude was emphasized all the more by the Latin 
hymns sung and read in the churches, and on religious occa 
sions, whose chief burden was worship of the Madonna,, and 
even of the saints, against which his mind rose in outraged 


Human nature being what it is. It was Inevitable that Calvin's 
followers should carry his ideas to an extreme, and mechanical 
ly add the conclusion that hymns independent of the lyrics of 
the Scriptures should be forbidden. 

While Luther stressed the Biblical content of the hymns and 
exalted the Psalms as the source of religious lyrical impulses, 
Calvin and his disciples added a rigid and almost superstitious 
regard for the mere form of the Scripture lyrics. They ac 
cepted their distortion and mutilation in giving them a metri 
cal form as justified by the congregational necessity, and by 
the evident devotional results among the people. 


Beneath his austerity Calvin evidently had an appreciation of 
literary beauty and grace, for he developed an ambition to 
clothe the Hebrew Psalms in a literary French metrical dress. 
It was while this problem was exercising his mind that there 
fell into his hands the French version of some of the Psalms 
by Clement Marot (14974544), who had come under the influ 
ence of Marguerite de Valois, the Huguenot princess, whose 
valet de chambre he was during his early twenties. It is possi- 



ble that he and Calvin met at Ferrara in 1535. Though the 
work of a Huguenot poet, these lyrics were admired in high 
political and social circles in France. Written in measures 
fitting them to popular tunes, they were very popular among 
the royal courtiers, Catholics as well as Protestants,, and were 
soon Introduced into other countries. 

That he was later persecuted by the Roman ecclesiastics only 
recommended him the more to Calvin. Here was a. poet of 
high reputation, a skillful versifier of the Psalms, a fellow- 
sufferer at the hands of the Roman hierarchy why not com 
mit to his hands the task of supplying Calvin's new church 
with its needed book of Psalms? So Marot was called to 


In 1543, nineteen years after Luther's first venture, the Acht 
Uiederbuch, appeared, The Genevan Psalter was issued in the 
French language. It contained fifty psalms by Marot. Marot 
died in 1544. The completion of the Psalter was committed 
to Theodore Beza of Burgundy, who revised Marot's verses, 
eliminating the classical allusions and offensive gaiety. With 
the help of Bourgeois, and later of Goudimel, in completing 
and harmonizing the tunes, he finished the Psalter in 1562. 1 


There had been English versions of some of the Psalms before 
Sternhold undertook the task. Bishop Aldhelm of Sherborne, 
who died in 709 A.D., composed a complete psalter. Two 
versions were due to Lutheran influence. That of Miles Cover- 
dale, Ghoostly Psalms and Spiritual Songs, appearing some 
time between 1530 and 1540, used some of the German 
chorales, including the great "Ein feste Burg." 

The Wedderburn brothers of Dundee, Scotland, issued the 
Compendious Boo^e of Gude and Godlie Ballates* also 
known as Dundee Psalms, on the return of John Wedderburn, 



soon after 1539, from Wittenberg, where lie had been under 
the Influence of both Luther and Melanchthon. Latin psalms 
and hymns had no value with young people, he insisted in his 
preface; "but when they hear it sung into their vulgar tongue, 
or sing it themselves, with sweet melody, then shall they love 
their God with heart and mind, and cause them to put away 
bawdry and unclean songs. 57 While considerably better than 
the songs the collection displaced, the new book was too 
cheaply popular, and undignified in many of its religious paro 
dies of popular songs, to satisfy the elders of the Scottish 
Kirk (!) and they tried to suppress it. 

But the lines of religious, social, doctrinal, and political in 
fluence connected England and Scotland with France and 
Geneva so closely that it happened that the new English and 
Scotch psalmody was based on the work of Marot and Calvin 
and not on that of Luther, To human minds with some 
sense of literary dignity and style and of a more spontaneous 
expression of religious life and experience, it seems a great 

The first response in England to the new version of Marot 
was the Latin version of George Buchanan in 1548. Latin was 
an entirely dead language to the commonalty, but was quite 
generally familiar to people of scholarship and culture. This 
version, in the scholarly language of all Europe (like the 
Mandarin in China), found wide appreciation in intellectual 
circles and many editions of it were issued- Of course, the 
mass of the English people was not affected by it, and it 
had little or no influence on the development of English 

That there were vernacular versions already in use, is quite 
certain. Robert Cowley anticipated Sternhold and Hopkins in 
the versifying of the whole Psalter, issuing his work in 1549. 
In the preface to this collection he refers to previous versions 
which had passages "obscure and hard." Probably they were 
Lollard or Wycliffite in origin, for these "sweet singers," pre- 


cursors of the Reformation to come, worked among the lower 
classes in the Low Countries as well as in England, singing 
the Gospel in the vernacular, 


Undoubtedly it was the French Psalms of Marot, and their 
great popularity in the highest circles in France, that incited 
Thomas Sternhold to undertake a like version in the English 
language. His first issue, probably in 1547 and 1548, contained 
nineteen Psalms. In 1549 he published another edition con 
taining thirty-seven Psalms. Sternhold died in 1549, leaving 
but nineteen additional Psalms unpublished. Another poet, 
John Hopkins, a near neighbor in Gloucestershire, contributed 
to the edition of 1551. In 1562 the psalter was completed. Of 
the one hundred and fifty Psalms, Sternhold had supplied 
fifty-one, Hopkins sixty, all in common meter, and the rest 
were contributed by various writers. It also contained metrical 
versions of the Canticles, the Ten Commandments, the Atha- 
nasian Creed, the Te Deum, the Lord's Prayer, an English 
version of the festival hymn, "Veni, Creator Spiritus," and 
several original English hymns. 

This psalter had a popularity equaled only by Hymns An 
cient and Modern and the Gosfel Hymns series in the recent 
past. Within half a century more than fifty editions were 
issued. By 1841 no less than six hundred and fifty different 
editions had been absorbed by the religious public more than 
all other metrical versions combined. 

This version was adopted by the Church of England in 1562 
and continued to be used for nearly two hundred and fifty 
years, despite its notorious crudities and imperfections,, and 
despite the many efforts made to supersede it by other versions 
and by hymns. The singing of Psalms became universal. At 
St. Paul's Cross, after the service, there were sometimes six 
thousand persons engaged in singing Psalms. It was a time 
of genuine community singing. 




In 1556, John Knox issued his Anglo-Genevan Psalter, based 
on the 1551 edition of Sternhold and Hopkins, with some 
alterations and additions. It naturally was greatly influenced 
by Calvin's Genevan Psalter. The Anglo-Genevan Psalter is 
significant chiefly because of its influence on the Scotch 
Psalter. Through that, it is the source of some psalms and 
tunes still in use notably, "All people that on earth do 
dwell" and "Old Hundredth" to which the Long Meter 
Doxology is sung. 

The Scotch Psalter developed on a different line. The 
Psalm editors of the Scottish Church accepted eighty-seven of 
the Anglo-Genevan Psalms, added and somewhat altered 
forty-two from the final Sternhold and Hopkins editions, and 
supplied twenty-one from their own versifiers. It appeared in 
1564 and was adopted by the General Assembly as its au 
thorized Psalm book. 

In 1600 James I began a revision and himself wrote thirty- 
five of the Psalms before his death. This psalter was com 
pleted by William Alexander and was issued in 1630, being 
known as the Royal Psalter. Charles I bound up a revised 
edition of it with a new liturgy prepared by the Scotch bishops 
in 1536, and ordered its exclusive use. But the Scotch clergy 
declined with thanks, having no use for "the mass in English." 

But the question of a revision of this Psalter having been 
raised, its deficiencies, which had been passively accepted, rose 
up into consciousness. Rous' version, adopted by the West 
minster Assembly in 1643, and hence widely used in England, 
was made the basis of the new Scotch Psalter and, after seven 
years of amending and revision, was adopted in 1650. It is 
still used in Scotland and in American Presbyterian churches 
whose eyes look back reverently to Scotland. 

Rous* version was made by Francis Rous, Provost of Eton 



College, Oxford, a Presbyterian lawyer and a man of public 
affairs. It was an improvement on Sternhold and Hopkins, 
but still left much to be desired in smoothness of versification 
and grace of diction, owing to the continued loyalty to the 
original phraseology of the Psalms. Hence it had some "awful 
examples," to use Matthew Arnold's phrase, whose repetition 
here might amuse but not edify. But it also had some happy 
stanzas that we still are glad to sing, e.g.: 

"The Lord's my Shepherd, I'll not want; 

He makes me down to lie 
In pastures green; he leadeth me 
The quiet waters by." 

Compare this with Archbishop Parker's version of the Shep 
herd Psalm written in 1557: 

"To feed my neede: he will me leade 

To pastures green and fat: 
He forth brought me: in Hbertie 
To waters delicate." 

But with the blindness of the versifiers to the need of diversify 
ing their meters in the interest of varied and attractive tunes, 
all the psalms were written in Common Meter. 2 


A new version by two Irishmen, Nahum Tate and Nicholas 
Brady, appeared in 1696. Tate was a literary man, a play 
wright, a poet, and finally poet laureate. Brady had a rather 
varied clerical career in Ireland and in England,, becoming 
chaplain to King William. This will partly explain why this 
version received royal endorsement and gradually replaced 
Sternhold and Hopkins in the English Church. It was 
adopted by the Protestant Episcopal Church of America in 
1789. The fact that the Nonconformist churches remained 
faithful to the "Old Version" and to Rous' version, no doubt 


had its bearing on the final acceptance of the u New Version" 
by the Established Church. 

This "New Version" was a little smoother than the "Old 
Version," and had a little more literary grace, but still was 
shackled by devotion to "purity" to the exact thought and 
phraseology of the Hebrew Psalms. Nevertheless, as Qillman 
says, "this book contained a plentiful supply of chaff., but per 
haps a few more grains of golden corn than Sternhold's." 
"As pants the hart for cooling streams" and "Through all the 
changing scenes of life" are still highly prized, and Tate's 
Christmas Carol, "While shepherds watched their flocks by 
night" (which appeared in a supplement to the "New Ver 
sion") is a masterly adaptation of the Nativity story. On the 
other hand, Montgomery, in comparing the "New Version'* 
with the "Old Version," remarks: "It is nearly as inanimate as 
the former, though a little more refined." Of the "Old Ver 
sion" he says : "The merit of faithful adherence to the original 
has been claimed for this version and need not be denied, but 
it is the resemblance which the dead bear to the living." Old 
Thomas Fuller wittily says of Sternhold and Hopkins that 
"They are men whose piety was better than their poetry, and 
they had drunk more of Jordan than of Helicon." Thomas 
Campbell even more harshly exclaims: "With the best inten 
sions and the worst taste, they degraded the spirit of Hebrew 
poetry by flat and homely phraseology, and, mistaking vulgar 
ity for simplicity, turned into bathos what they found sub 
lime." From the literary point of view these dicta are correct 
enough, but they overlook what is vastly more important the 
high moral and spiritual uses which these homely versions so 
amply served. 


The Pilgrims brought with them from Leyden Ainsworths' 
version of the Psalms, published in Amsterdam Genevan 
rather than English in character. Its use was largely confined 



to the Pilgrims and their descendants. Presently the copies 
of both versions became rare and the service o song depended 
on the "lining out" of the verses. 

The first book printed in America was the Bay Psalm Boo\, 
an independent version of the Psalms made by Thomas 
Welde, Richard Mather, and John Eliot, the apostle to the In 
dians, a committee appointed in 1636. It was proposed to make 
it more scriptural than either of the previous versions used. 
It appeared in 1640. Its preface consisted of a discourse urging 
that psalm-singing was both lawful and necessary. During 
the next century and a half no less than seventy editions were 
printed. It was improved by Dunster and Lyon and reprinted 
in Great Britain, eighteen editions being called for in England 
and twenty-two in Scotland. This was America's first con 
tribution to the song service of the Mother Country, but by 
no means the last. 

It may be interesting to see just what literary style this 
Bay Psalm Boof^ could display, and a few specimens are here 
with given. The one hundred and thirty-seventh Psalm, for 
instance, was given the following form : 

1. "The rivers on of Babilon 

There when wee did sit downe: 
Yea, even then wee mourned when 
wee remembred Sion. 

2. Our Harp wee did hang it amid 

Upon the willow tree, 
Because there they that us away 
led in captivitee, 

3. Required of us a song and thus 

ask mirth: us waste who laid, 
sing us among a Sion's song 
unto us then they said. 

4. The Lord's song sing can wee? being 

in stranger's land. Then let 



loose her skill my right hand, if I 
Jerusalem forget. 

5. Let cleave my tongue my pallate on 

if minde ttiee doe not I 
if chief joys or'e I prize not more 
Jerusalem my joy." 

Cotton Mather's rhymeless version was much more sensible 
in its form, for it eliminated the chief handicap in producing 
a literal version in metrical form. 

As in the Psalm versions of England and Scotland, there 
was a vivid consciousness of literary and poetic shortcomings; 
but the sense of obligation to supply a literal translation of die 
Hebrew overrode all impulses toward a smoother rendering. 
The preface frankly states the position of the committee: "If 
therefore the verses are not always so smooth and elegant as 
some may desire or expect; let them consider that God's altar 
needs not our polishing (Ex. 20), for we have respected 
rather a plaine translation, than to smooth our verses with 
the sweetness of any paraphrase, and soe have attended Con 
science rather than Elegance, fidelity rather than poetry, in 
translating the Hebrew words into English language and 
David's poetry into English meetre." 

There were other American Psalm versions, but the only 
versions worth considering are the revisions of Isaac Watts' 
Psalms, which will come up in introducing American 
hymnody later. 


In smiling over this rude psalmody of England, Scotland, and 
America, it is always to be remembered that these versions 
were not a literary endeavor. Their ambition was to secure 
"purity," loyalty to the rather prosaically conceived doctrines 
of the originals. There was no thought of poetry or of literary 
finish. The meter and rhyme were practical devices to make 
congregational singing possible. 


lafter XIV 


JUST as Gregory the Great did not create the music that bears 
his name, nor Luther the congregational hymnody, so Isaac 
Watts did not originate the English hymnody of which he is 
often termed the father. The Lollards, or Wickliffites, sang 
metrical psalms, and also hymns, in the Low Countries, as 
well as in England, long before Luther, or Marot, or Stern- 

Moreover, the emphasis of the Psalms was an ecclesiastical, 
clerical attitude, while the people at large to whom the Scrip 
tures had been a closed book, and the Psalms an unknown 
language, sang such vernacular hymns as sprang up among 
them; so, while we cannot doubt but that they sang some 
metrical psalms, based on the Wickliffe English Bible, the 
body of their singing was presumably hymnic. 

Indeed, we must go back much farther to find the spring 
of religious song that was to become a great river o praise. 
Caedmon, a monk, originally a swineherd, of the early seventh 
century, supplied the earliest recorded English hymns: 

"Now must we hymn the Master of heaven, 
The might of the Maker, the deeds of the Father, 
The thought of his heart." 

Undoubtedly the times before Caedmon were resonant with 



earlier songs, for the Venerable Bede (673-735) In the next 
generation records the fact of a great deal of singing among 
the people. Indeed, he himself wrote hymns in Anglo-Saxon, 
as well as in Latin. Patrick and Colombo sang psalms and 
hymns and made them a means of converting the pagans of 
Ireland and Scotland. 


The urge, not only for versifying all parts of the Scriptures, 
including genealogies, but of actually singing them with 
fervor, submerged the native impulse of song. The religious 
loyalty to the letter of the Scriptures that followed closed the 
door against the development of the English hymn. 1 

Professor Reeves in his The Hymn as Literature remarks: 
"As vigorous and variegated and prevalent as this union of 
popular poetry and popular music was in England, it strangely 
weakened and paled at the one time in English history when 
it might have been expected most to flourish. The Reforma 
tion, born of that new freedom of thought and worship which 
produces the best hymnody, did not in England, as it glorious 
ly did in Germany, speak out richly in the native vernacular 
hymn. 2 


But it was not only the blight of a narrow bibliolatry that pre 
vented the development of the English religious lyric. Eng 
lish poetry had lost its spontaneity and its gracious simplicity 
in a self-conscious devotion to false literary ideals. 

The conception of a congregational hymn did not exist 
among the literary men of the Reformation and later. Indeed, 
that Reformation among the cultured and intellectual classes 
was not so much a religious transformation as a political 
and cultural repudiation of clerical bonds, and an enjoyment 



of new liberties. There was some religious feeling, of course, 
but it was expressed in elaborate forms, not in spontaneous 
simple lyrics that the people could sing. 

The technic of the singing hymn had not been developed, 
nor its limitations recognized. It took nearly a century before 
even an approximation could be reached to the practicability 
of the Lutheran hymns, which were written, not by literary 
connoisseurs, but by men in close touch with the people, men 
who had with singleness of mind striven to win and edify 
them. As we study the English lyrics, written, not to be 
sung, but simply to express the personal feelings of the writer 
in the current style and in complicated measures, we see how 
far English poets had to go before a practicable singing hymn 
could be written. 

The conceptions of poetry, the prevalent grandioseness of 
style, the studied phrasemaking, the excessive Latinity of 
vocabulary among distinctively literary men, made the sim 
plicity needed in a congregational hymn impossible. Despite 
Mr. Horder's enthusiasm over the possible use Luther would 
have made of John Milton, the German hymnody creator 
could have done nothing with the ponderous large-planning 
author of Paradise Lost, with his wealth of classical allusions 
and mythology, and his phrasing rich with preciosity. Milton's 
psalm versions, fine as they are, were simply not singable by 
the commonalty of his time who were to be depended on to 
do the singing. He was a writer of odes, not of singing 

Here is a literary hymn balancing phrases, piling up anti 
theses, consciously seeking striking and euphonious combina 
tions of words: 
"I praise Him most, I love Him best, all praise and love is His; 

While Him I love, in Him I live, and cannot live amiss. 

Love's sweetest mark, laud's highest theme, man's most desired 

To love Him life, to leave Him death, to live in Him delight." 



The writer of the foregoing, Robert Southwell, a Romanist 
martyr, writing in prison, could write simple lyrics out of the 
fullness and genuineness of his religious experience, but it was 
not in the accepted fashion. What Protestant dare refuse to 
sing this simple hymn of his? 

"Yet God's must I remain, 

By death, by wrong, by shame; 
I cannot blot out of my heart 
That grace wrought in his name." 



All these writers, and many others that might be mentioned, 
had not acquired the technic of congregational hymn writing. 
They either did not recognize the limitations of the singing 
hymn, or refused to be hampered by its restraints. 

But presently the idea of the singing hymn defined itself. 
Thomas Campion in 1613 issued a number of lyrics that com 
bined spiritual insight, literary grace, and practical availability 
to a hitherto unattained degree. Dr. Benson characterizes his 
"Never weather-beaten sail 

More willing beat to shore," 

as "among the loveliest of the lyrics expressing the heavenly 
homesickness." Campion was a musician as well as a poet, 
which partly accounts for the singability of his hymns. 

In 1623 George Withers issued a complete hymnbook for 
the Established Church. It was made up of Scriptural para 
phrases and hymns for special occasions. The hymns are 
superior to previous attempts in structure and method, in their 
simple piety and practical purpose, and in their availability for 
actual congregational singing. But in the midst of admirable 
lines there were strange lapses in taste. The hymn whose 
first verse began so auspiciously, 

"Come, oh, come, in pious lays 
Sound we God Almighty's praise; 



Hither bring in one consent 
Heart and voice and instrument/' 

makes the singing congregation a conductor directing a vast 


"From earth's vast and hollow womb 
Music's deepest bass may come; 
Seas and floods, from shore to shore, 
Shall their counter-tenors roar," etc. 

Clever in a way, but hardly devotional! 

Withers' "Musicians' Hymn" has a very practical hint to the 
"singers* gallery/' as well as to the congregation: 

"He sings and plays 
The songs which best Thou lovest, 

Who does and says 
The things which Thou approvest." 

What Withers' influence on subsequent English hymnody 
might have been we can only conjecture: the Company of 
Stationers boycotted his book because he had secured the 
king's order to bind it up with the Psalter and shut it out 
from the regular channels of trade. His second collection, 
"Hallelujah," was even more practicable and candidly didactic 
in style. But Withers had but a slight, if any, influence, for 
Sternhold and Hopkins still ruled the worship of the churches. 

His immediate successors in hymn writing, Herbert, Donne, 
Crashaw, and Vaughan, were not influenced by his practical 
spirit and sang to please themselves, not to lead the congre 

George Herbert (1593-1633) was a devout soul, full of a 
usually charming fantasy and fertile in imagery; but antithesis 
was still an allurement to poets in his generation. His "Anti- 
phon" makes an effective hymn, but the inevitable contrast is 
still there: 

"The heavens are not too high, 
His praise may thither fly; 



The earth is not too low, 
His praises there may grow." 

Donne, Crashaw, and Vaughan all share in the quaintness 
of Herbert and also in his general hyrnnic impracticability. 

Robert Herrick (1591-1674), the singer of rather worldly 
songs, but a literary artist withal, in his "Litany to the Holy 
Spirit" reaches more nearly up to the ideal of the singing 

"In the hour of my distress. 
When temptations me oppress, 
And when I my sins confess. 
Sweet Spirit, comfort me." 

But when in the second stanza he descends to a description 
of a feverish sleepless night, 

"When I lie within my bed 
Sick in heart and sick in head, 
And with doubts discomforted, 
Sweet Spirit, comfort me, 95 

a doubt of its congruity on the lips of a crowd of worshipers 
begins to rise. But when in the fourth and fifth verses one 
is asked to sing, 

"When the artless doctor sees 
No one hope but of his fees, 
And his skill runs on the lees, 
Sweet Spirit, comfort me. 

"When his potion and his pill, 
His or none or little skill, 
Meet for nothing but to kill, 
Sweet Spirit, comfort me,'* 

one understands why, despite some fine lines, hymnal editors 
hesitate to use it. 

Richard Baxter (16154691), chiefly remembered by his 
Saints' Everlasting Rest and Call to the Unconverted and a 



mass of other most useful writings, prepared a metrical psalter 
which found little response; he also wrote some poetry, but, 
as a child of his age, delighted in antithesis. One of his books 
of poetry had as its subtitle The Concordant Discord of a 
Broken-healed Heart. His hymns, however, are simple in 
style and make a close approach to the practicable type. Two 
of them are still largely in use: "Lord, it belongs not to my 
care" and "Ye holy angels bright." Had the churches in his 
day given a fair opportunity, or furnished the inspiration of 
demand, Baxter might have been one of our great hymnists, 
superior to Watts in his deeper spirituality. 

John Austin (P-1669) wrote some excellent hymns for a 
book of "Devotions" for family use. Among them is 

"Blest be Thy love, dear Lord, 

That taught me this sweet way, 
Only to love Thee for Thyself 
And for that love obey," 

which still finds a worthy place in our hymnals. 

About this time (1616) the long poem, "Hierusalem, my 
happie home," appears to have been written. Only the initials 
F. B. P. are attached to the manuscript, now in the British 
Museum. It is conjectured that they stand for Francis Baker 
Priest. Out of it have been fashioned two very useful hymns : 
"Jerusalem, my happy home," by Joseph Bromehead in 1795, 
and "O mother dear, Jerusalem," by an unknown hand. The 
debt of the original to the Latin is quite evident, but it has 
original values as well. Aside from its length, a common 
fault in its time, it approaches the final type of the congrega 
tional hymns very nearly in its simplicity, devoutness, and in 
its practicable measure. 

Closely allied to the Herbert school of religious lyrics, Bishop 
Thomas Ken (1637-1711) had the advantage of belonging to 
a later generation in which the conception of the congrega 
tional hymn had begun to crystallize into a definite form. 



His Morning and Evening Hymns are both simple in structure 
in Ambrose's iambic long meter free from affectations and 
bizarre rhetoric, easily comprehensible, and devout and spirit 
ual They have been accepted as among the best hymns in 
the language. 

The doxology with which the two hymns close has been 
sung more frequendy and with greater elevation of mind and 
heart than any other four lines in all earth's literature. There 
is in this doxology a nobility, a majesty, a comprehensive 
ness of praise which have not been approached elsewhere 
outside of the choruses found in the Book of Revelation. Eng 
lish hymnody had at last found its voice, its spirit, and its 

The conception of the congregational hymn had now been 
clearly defined and, from Bishop Ken on, English hymnody 
was established as a distinct department of English lyrical 
poetry. Hymn writers thenceforward were content to accept 
the mediocrity Montgomery later called for. The difficulty 
was that the English Protestant churches, still psalm-fanatic, 
were not ready to sing the hymns they needed so much for 
their highest spiritual development, and which now began 
to be supplied. 

That the idea of singing hymns of "human composure" was 
making progress is evidenced by the issue in 1659 of the first 
collection of hymns, A Century of Select Hymns, by William 
Barton (1603-1678). He had issued a collection of versified 
Psalms in 1644 and a litde book of Psalms and hymns of 
thanksgiving in 1651. A litde later he published a review of 
the current Psalm version discussing its "errors" and "absurdi 
ties." He issued six collections during his lifetime, most of 
whose content we would recognize as hymns. His work has 
little interest to us except as it, as well as that of Wither, 
Baxter, and Mason, helped to clarify the ideas of the young 
man Watts. 




It was the lack o preparation on the part of the churches, 
rather than any essential inferiority to Isaac Watts, that pre 
vented John Mason (P-1694) from being recognized as the 
father of English hymnody. Watts* superiority lay in his 
having an intenser consciousness of the greater value of the 
free hymn and the strength and ability to force the issue to a 
final conclusion. 

Mason's hymns were the first to be used in regular congre 
gational worship. Twenty editions of his Spiritual Songs were 
issued; considering the times and the small population, this 
was a marvelous success. This collection may be considered 
the thin edge of the wedge, later driven by Watts, between 
the churches and psalmody. Horder in his Hymn Lover de 
clares that "rarely did Watts rise to the height of thought 
and beauty of expression which are found in Mason's hymns/' 

One of Mason's most widely used hymns is 

"Now from the altar of my heart 

Let incense flames arise; 

Assist me, Lord, to offer up 

Mine evening sacrifice. 

Awake, my Love! awake, my Joy; 

Awake, my Heart and Tongue: 
Sleep not: when Mercies loudly call, 

Break forth into a Song." 

High authority claims that Mason's hymn, "Thou wast, O 
God, and Thou wast blest," is one of the best in the language. 
Its third verse is particularly noble : 

"To whom, Lord, should I sing but Thee, 

The Maker of my tongue? 
Lo, other lords would seize on me, 
But I to Thee belong. 



As waters hasten to their sea, 

And earth unto its earth, 
So let my soul return to Thee, 

From whom it had its birth." 

His influence on Watts was very considerable. George Mac- 
Donald says of Mason's hymns: "Dr. Watts was very fond 
of them; would that he had written with similar modesty of 
style." Mason was made to supply many a good line to the 
hymns of Watts, we are told by those who have compared 
the hymns of the two writers. 3 

The hymns are good, because the writer was good! Richard 
Baxter styled him "the glory of the Church of England," say 
ing that "the frame of his spirit was so heavenly, his de 
portment so humble and obliging, his discourse of spiritual 
things so weighty, with such apt words and delightful air, 
that it charmed all that had any spiritual relish." 

Before closing this chapter, mention must be made of Joseph 
Addison (1672-1719), who is so widely known because of his 
connection with the famous Spectator, a weekly devoted to 
essays on various topics, literary and otherwise. While his 
essays are his chief claim to literary honor, he wrote five 
hymns, three of which are found in most of our larger hymn 
als: "The spacious firmament on high," "When all thy 
mercies, O my God," "How are thy servants blest, O Lord." 
These hymns are all most thoughtful and felicitously ex 
pressed. They are admirably adapted for the worship of God, 
but they too unanimously ignore the higher attributes of the 
divine nature as manifested in Jesus Christ, and the salvation 
he wrought out for fallen and needy humanity, to take a 
high place in Christian Hymnody. The same is true of 
Psalms, of course, but they were written before Christ ap 


-Chapter XV 



WE have now reached the point in the development of the 
English hymn where the shortcomings of the metrical versions 
of the Psalms were keenly realized, and where the conception 
of the practicable congregational hymn was clarified and the 
model definitely established. 

Someone of combative courage and of organizing ability 
was needed who would break down the wall of mere usage 
and custom in the churches of the sheerly mechanical tradi 
tion and mental inertia; all the better, if he could replace the 
outworn Psalm versions with practicable congregational hymns 
that would more intelligently and efficiently voice the faith 
and the experience of God's people. He needed to be a man 
of clear vision of the essential lyric needs of the church, of a 
clear conception of the type of hymns best fitted to supply 
those needs, of literary culture and adaptativeness, and of a 
high moral courage to face and overcome the extreme con- 
servativeness that seems to be inherent in all ecclesiastical 


In the distinct providence of God, the man appeared, exactly 
fitted for the important task. Isaac Watts was born at 
Southampton, England, July 17, 1674, the son of a very intelli- 



gent and devout schoolmaster, who during the reign of 
Charles II was imprisoned and exiled from his family for his 
nonconformity. Isaac was extraordinarily precocious, studying 
Greek and Hebrew at the age of eight years, writing verses 
when a mere child, and attempting Latin and English poetry 
in his schooldays. His brilliant scholarship brought him offers 
of a career at one of the universities, but he refused, being 
staunch in his nonconformity. 

He became a Nonconformist minister in 1698 and pastor of 
the Independent Church, Berry Street, London, in 1702. His 
health being frail, owing to his excessive study as a student, 
he was given an assistant, Rev. Samuel Price, with whom he 
spent "many harmonious years of fellowship in the Gospel.** 

Visiting Sir Thomas Abney, a staunch Dissenter living at 
Theobalds in Hertfordshire, for a week. Watts was per 
suaded to remain with him and his wife permanently, making 
his home with them the rest of his life. He never married. 
His health was always precarious, and his pastorate at the 
Berry Street Independent Church, which ended only with his 
death, was largely nominal. 

We rarely think of Isaac Watts as anything more than a 
hymn writer, but his intellectual activities were wide and his 
writing outside of hymnody extensive. He wrote a number of 
treatises on Theology. His textbooks on Geography, Astrono 
my, and Logic were used in the English universities, and at 
Yale and Harvard. 


Watts had been recognized from childhood as having a talent 
in the making of verses. Returning from a church service in 
Southampton, he sharply criticized the hymns of Barton an 
inferior contemporary of John Mason. His devout father, a 
deacon in the church, playfully, perhaps seriously, replied that 
he should try his skill in supplying a better one. The chal 
lenge was accepted and he brought his father the hymn: 



"Behold the glories of the Lamb 

Amidst his Father's throne; 
Prepare new honors for his name. 
And songs before unknown." 

He little realized that it was his life's most illustrious task to 
fulfill the exhortation of the last two lines. 

The success of the new hymn when lined out to the con 
gregation and sung by them led to a demand for more. Thus 
unconsciously and unpretentiously was ushered in a new 
epoch in the devotional singing of the Christian Church. 
Presumably this occurred in his twenty-first year, for this and 
the succeeding year were spent at home in Southampton in 
varied studies and in writing hymns. 

These hymns seem to have remained in manuscript for some 
years, despite the earnest protest of his younger brother, who 
declared that "Mason now reduces this kind of writing to a 
sort of yawning indifference, and honest Barton chimes us 
asleep." This literary judgment of young Enoch must not 
be taken too seriously, except as expressing his eagerness to 
have his brilliant brother's hymns brought before the public. 

It was nearly or quite ten years after the first hymn that a 
collection of hymns and odes and other poems, Horce Lyricce, 
was issued, in 1706. It contained twenty-five hymns, four 
psalm paraphrases, and eleven religious songs in varied meas 
ures and meters. It also contained elegies, odes, and blank 
verse of a purely literary character. In his preface he sug 
gests the spirit and methods which should later be more fully 
developed. "The hymns were never written to appear before 
the judges of wit, but only to assist the meditations and wor 
ship of vulgar Christians." - 1 

In 1709 the second edition of the Horce furnished an in 
creased number of hymns. In the preface of this edition he 
confesses that in the hymns of the Horce "there are some ex 
pressions which are not suited to the plainest capacities, and 



differ too much from the usual methods of speech In which 
holy things are proposed to the general part of mankind." 

The hymns contained in the more popular Hymns and 
Spiritual Songs in 1707, and in the augmented edition of 1709, 
were of a plainer type for "the level of vulgar capacities/' The 
edition of 1709 contained two hundred and fifty-five hymns, 
seventy-eight paraphrases, and twenty-two communion hymns* 
The hymns were in only three meters. Long, Common, and 
Short. Watts had an eye single for practicability. 

The four Psalm versions contained in his Harts Lyriaz 
had a prefatory note, "An essay on a few of David's Psalms 
translated into plain verse, in language more agreeable to the 
clearer revelations of the Gospel," which makes certain that 
he had already clearly in mind the evangelical psalter which, 
despite his absorption in other tasks and his long illness in 
1712, finally appeared in 1719, "The Psalms of David imitated 
in the language of the New Testament and apply'd to the 
Christian state and worship." Watts excluded twelve Psalms 
entirely and omitted passages from some of the one hundred 
and thirty-eight that were retained, because they were not 
adapted to Christian use. 

Although he never married, Watts was very fond of chil 
dren. In 1715, in the midst of his program for the public 
service of song, his opus magnum, he prepared his "Divine 
Songs, attempted in easy language for the use of children/' 
It was to be used in connection with the "Catechism" he had 
prepared for their use. It was the first collection of its kind 
and was the forerunner of the immense supply of children's 
songs that was to grow out of the activities of the Sunday 
school. One is amazed that the writer of "When I survey the 
wondrous cross," or "Our God, our help in ages past," could 
write so tender and graceful a lullaby as 

"Hush, my babe, lie still and slumber, 
Holy angels guard thy bed! 



Heavenly blessings without number 
Gently falling on thy head." 


However kindly we may estimate the value of Watts* hymns 
and of his evangelical metrical versions of the Psalms, we must 
recognize that his service as the protagonist of the free hymn 
is quite as great. His hymns and evangelical psalter would 
likely have suffered the fate of those of Wither and Mason, 
his immediate predecessors, had he not written attractive and 
practicable congregational hymns and versions, and not ac 
complished two other results essential to the substitution of 
the free hymn for the often grotesque Psalm versions. 

He did not simply write a miscellaneous lot of religious 
lyrics and shoot them like arrows into the air; he had a clear 
and efficient theory of church song, recognizing not only the 
varied needs, but the psychology underlying those needs, and 
produced "a system of praise" that supplied those needs and 
conciliated current prejudices. 

Again, in his prefaces and in his Essay towards the Im 
provement of Psalmody, he laid hymnological foundations 
that not only prepared the way for the introduction of his 
own hymns and versions, but also for such a fresh considera 
tion of the whole subject as led to the revolution in the English 
song service; from these have come the freedom and spon 
taneity, genuineness and sincerity, definiteness o purpose, and 
deepening of personal experience which have blessed succeed 
ing generations. 

His supreme merit, in this definite onslaught on the rigid 
literalism of the churches, was that he not only brought de 
structive criticism, but supplied an adequate substitute for that 
which he condemned. 

Watts denied the obligation to sing the Bible. The Scrip 
tures were the Word of God to the soul and the hymn was the 
work of the soul in response to God. He further denied that 



the Book of Psalms was given as a hymnbook for the Chris 
tian Church. It was not even adapted to its use, for it was 
distinctly Jewish and not Christian in ideals and spirit. "Some 
of 'em are almost opposite to the spirit of the Gospel; many 
of them are foreign to the state of the New Testament and 
widely different to the present circumstances of Christians.* 1 
Before they can be sung in a Christian service they must be 
rewritten as if David were a Christian and not a Jew. 

Even allowing that there was an obligation to sing the 
Word of God, Watts denied that the metrical Psalm was the 
pure Word of God. The demands of meter and rhyme so 
refashioned and even mutilated the Psalms that they no 
longer were the words of the Scripture, nor even its ideas. 
Its inspiration suffered a total eclipse under the hands of the 
versifiers, and the metrical Psalm became a work of "human 
composure" with none of the vital spirit of the free hymn. 

Watts could not understand why "we under the Gospel 
should sing nothing else but the joys, hopes, and fears of 
Asaph and Dayid." He declared that "David would have 
thought it very hard to have been confined to the words of 
Moses and sung nothing else on all his rejoicing days but the 
drowning of Pharaoh in the fifteenth of Exodus." He com 
plained that even in those places where the Jewish psalmist 
seems to mean the Gospel, excellent poet as he was, he was 
not able to speak it plain, by reason of the infancy of that 
dispensation, and longs for the aid of a Christian writer. 

He set aside the prevalent "superstitious reverence for the 
letter of the Jewish Scriptures/* and in an almost defiant spirit 
declared, "Though there are many gone before me who have 
taught the Hebrew Psalmist to speak English, yet I think I 
may assume the pleasure of being the first who hath brought 
down the royal author into the common affairs of the Chris 
tian life, and led the Psalmist of Israel into the Church of 
Christ, without anything of the Jew about him." 

Whatever devotional value we may assign to the Psalms, we 



must accept Watts' fundamental idea that they are not the 
exclusive formulary of the use of song in the worship of God 
and in the life of the Church. His further contention that 
not all the Psalms, nor all parts of them, are adapted to Chris- 
dan use, we cannot now gainsay. The Jews themselves only 
used about forty of them. It was not until centuries after the 
Apostolic Age had elapsed that, due to monkish superstition, 
all the Psalms were recognized as of equal exclusive use. 

So many versions of individual Psalms make such satisfac 
tory hymns and so many hymns are such faithful transcripts 
of passages from the Psalms, or echoes of their sentiments, that 
the distinction between psalm versions and hymns in individ 
ual cases might well be set aside entirely, as having no actual 
basis or value. 


While Watts laid the strongest emphasis on the awkwardness 
and absurdity of much of the Psalm paraphrasing, he was also 
impressed with the unavailability of the literary hymns of his 
predecessors, or even of some of his own in his first book. 
The common people would not sing them, they were out of 
their reach; moreover, they were not in practicable meters and 
measures, and did not fit the accepted tunes the people knew. 
Watts accepted the current Psalm version meters, Long Meter, 
Common Meter, and Short Meter, and the Psalm tunes at 
once became hymn tunes. It was quite a handicap to a literary 
hymn writer, but essential to the practical use of the hymn. 

Watts deliberately avoided distinctly literary quality in his 
hymns, seeking only lucidity and plainness of expression, all 
within the capacity of the common people. To quote from his 
prefaces, he "endeavored to make the sense plain and obvious. 
. . . The metaphors are generally sunk to the level of vulgar 

capacities Some of the beauties of poesy are neglected and 

some wilfully defaced." 



Dr. Benson, whom it is always profitable to quote, says: 
"Watts* work earns a place in the literature of power, the 
literature that leaves esthetic critics cold while it moves men." 
Palgrave included nothing of Watts in his Golden Treasury, 
but elsewhere speaks of him as "one of those whose sacrifice 
of art to direct usefulness has probably lost them those 
honors in literature to which they were entitled." 


The offensive lines in Watts must be judged with due regard 
to their background. The Sternhold and Hopkins version was 
vastly worse. It was a time of dry doctrinal preaching and of 
a literal interpretation of the Bible which to the preachers was 
largely a mere collection of isolated proof texts. In these 
matters he was speaking in the idiom and with the accent of 
his own generation. In the two centuries that have since 
passed, the sand and gravel and debris have been washed 
away, and our hymnals contain the pure gold of his verse 
for our edification and delight. Outside of the hymnbooks 
of the Wesley brothers, where can we find such a placer mine 
of spiritual wealth? 

At his best Watts wrote hymns of majesty and ecstatic 
adoration that have never been excelled: 

"Our God, our Help in ages past, 
Our Hope for years to come; 
Our Shelter from the stormy blast, 
And our eternal Home." 

How he has made the Long Meter measure sound like the 
CJreat Open Diapason of the pipe organ in the following 

"Before Jehovah's awful throne, 

Ye nations bow with sacred joy; 

Know that the Lord is God alone, 

He can create, and he destroy." 



What if John Wesley does add a majestic note or two In the 
foregoing hymn; the singer of the whole hymn Is the noble 
spirit of little Dr. Watts. 

Had David himself returned with an English tongue, he 
could not have reproduced the spirit of the seventy-second 
Psalm more nobly: 

"Jesus shall reign where'er the sun 
Doth his successive journeys run; 
His Kingdom spread from shore to shore, 
Till moons shall wax and wane no more." 

Solomon's coronation song (Ps. 72) was no more majestic 
than this crowning hymn Watts wrote for his Lord, 
But Watts could not only be majestic; he could be tender: 

"When I survey the wondrous cross 

On which the Prince of Glory died, 
My richest gain I count but loss, 
And pour contempt on all my pride," 

Is there a tenderer strain in all English hymnody than the 
third verse? 

"See, from his head, his hands, his feet, 
Sorrow and love flow mingled down! 
Did e'er such love and sorrow meet, 
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?" 

Not in the same exquisite vein of noble tenderness, but per 
haps all the more useful for its reduced voltage, is his other 
hymn of the Crucifixion, 

"Alas! and did my Saviour bleed? 

And did nay Sovereign die? 
Would he devote that sacred head 
For such a worm as I!" 

Its last verse has deepened the consecration of unnumbered 
millions as they sang the sacred vow: 



"But drops of grief can ne'er repay 

The debt of love I owe; 
Here, Lord, I give myself away 
'Tis all that I can do." 

The list of the great hymns that have come down to us from 
Isaac Watts is too long to be given, here, but they enrich the 
pages of all our hymnals and exalt the spirit of all our church 

The criticism often urged that Watts wrote too much cannot 
well be gainsaid, but the striking fact confronts us that most 
of the great hymns were written by men who wrote too much! 
The same is true of the composers of our greatest musiq as, 
for instance, Mendelssohn and Handel. Much writing de 
velops technic, ease, spontaneity, unselfconsciousness, that make 
the heights of feeling and expression more accessible. But 
what Watts needed was not so much to write less, but to 
have a competent editor like John Wesley to eliminate his 
vulgar and often grotesque lines. 

That Watts should find plenty of antagonists to pick up the 
gauge of challenge he threw out was inevitable. His hymns 
were called "Watts' Whims" in sardonic derision. It is note 
worthy that the opposition did not prove so heated against 
his hymns as against his The Psalms of David Imitated 
(1719). In daring to amend the Judaism of David he had 
committed sacrilege! This volume practically closed his work 
of reforming the service of song in the English language* He 
was but forty-four years old at this time and he lived thirty 
years more spent in theological, educational, and devotional 

The hymns of Watts slowly found their way among the 
Nonconformist churches. Before his death a large part of the 
Presbyterian and Congregational churches were nearly mo 
nopolized by them. However, the Established Church still 
clung to the Psalm Versions. 



A contemporary of Watts, Simon Browne (1680-1732) issued 
a collection of hymns in 1720, Hymns and Spiritual Songs, de 
signed as a supplement to Dr. Watts, containing one hundred 
and skty-six hymns which had considerable vogue during the 
next generation. Now only one hymn, "Come, gracious Spirit, 
heavenly Dove/' survives in some of our hymnals. 

Another contemporary was John Byrom (1691-1763), scien 
tist and mystic, whose "Christians, awake, salute the happy 
morn" is still a Christmas favorite and whose "My spirit 
longeth for Thee" is "terse and tender in a very high degree." 2 
MacDonald speaks of his few hymns as a "well of the water 
of life, for its song tells of the love and truth which are the 
grand power of God." 

Another hymn writer of Watts' day was Robert Seagrave 
(1693-?), who added fifty of his own hymns to a collection 
prepared for his own church at Lorimer's Hall, Cripplegate, 
London, all of which had a high degree of excellence, of 
which "Rise, my soul, and stretch thy wings" is found in most 
of our current hymnbooks. 

A greater than any of the above was Philip Doddridge 
(1702-1751), who was a close friend of Isaac Watts, although 
nearly thirty years younger. He wrote three hundred and 
seventy-five hymns, most o them as pendants to sermons, 
recapitulating and enforcing the points of his discourse. They 
were not collected and published until four years ofter his 
death. The fine character and high ability displayed by 
Doddridge endeared him to many of the most important peo 
ple of his day. The devoutness, literary grace, and adaptation 
to actual use of his lyrics were immediately recognized. Their 
distinctly homiletical character, combined with deep religious 
feeling and tenderness, and their varied topics, greatly ap 
pealed to ministers, and they were recognized as second only 
to Watts. The Church owes some of Its most useful hymns 



to him: "Awake, my soul, stretch every nerve/ 5 "Grace; 'tis 
a charming sound/' "How gentle God's commands/' "O 
happy day, that fixed my choice/* "My gracious Lord, I own 
thy right," are among the many found In all our hymnals. 
His relative standard may be inferred from the use made 
o leading hymn writers by Dr. Benson in his Revised Presby 
terian Hymnal: Watts 49, Charles Wesley 24, Doddridge 13. 


-Chapter XVI* 



THE line of hymnic succession between Watts and the Wes- 
leys was direct and not through Doddridge, for the latter 's 
hymns did not appear until 1754. One-half of John Wesley's 
American Collection, the first hymnbook published in Ameri 
ca, issued in Charleston, South Carolina, in 1737, after two 
years* work in the new Colony of Georgia, consisted of Watts' 
hymns. It goes without saying that Watts* hymnbooks, with 
others like Tate and Brady's New Version, George Herbert's 
poems, the hymns of John Austin, of Henry More, and of 
Norris of Bemerton, were so well known, and so appreciated, 
that copies of them were included among the books carried to 
America. In early manhood they met the already elderly 
Watts, and as they walked they sang together. Indeed, with 
Dr. Benson we may "infer that Watts' Psalms and Hymns, 
in connection with Tate and Brady's New Version, furnished 
the materials for the singing of the 'Holy Club.' " 

It is evident from the list of hymnbooks, and from the list 
of Wesley's selections for his American Collection, that Watts 
was not the only influence that gave the impulse and fash 
ioned the Wesleyan ideals of the public song service. It is 
noteworthy that Barton and Mason were not included. The 
High-Church Anglican Wesley s were not so prejudiced 
against Watts' Nonconformist hymns as to exclude them. 



With the Wesleys perhaps the strongest Influence was that of 
the family and the home. Their grandfather, John Wesley, 
was a Nonconformist clergyman, and, what Is more to the 
point, a poet. Their father, Samuel Wesley, was quite a 
voluminous poet (sixteen volumes) , owing his Epworth rec 
torship to Queen Mary's approval of his Lafe of Christ, an 
Heroic Poem. One of his hymns, "Behold the Saviour of 
mankind," still appears in some of our current hymnals. 

Their maternal grandfather was Rev. Samuel Aimesley, 
LL.D., a scholarly Nonconformist clergyman. Their mother, 
Susanna Annesley, is recognized as a woman of extraordinary 
force of character, organizing ability., and intense piety, the 
"Mother of Methodism," and even more gifted than her gifted 
but less steady and dependable husband. It will be noted 
that both grandfathers were dissenting clergymen. 

The Epworth rectory life was intellectual, intensely devout, 
and full of the singing of psalms and hymns, for It was "a nest 
of singing birds." When students at Oxford, John and 
Charles used to walk out into the meadows and sing songs 
and hymns together. 1 


As we shall see, another extremely important influence was 
that of the Moravians on their personal religious experi 
ence, which under the Moravian guidance, on the Adantic 
voyage and later, became intense and profound, furnishing 
tremendous motive power for all their work. The Moravian 
missionaries brought the realization of the power the Christian 
hymn can wield, and of the deep spirituality it may be used 
to express. It was not only the hymns the Moravian brethren 
sang that impressed John Wesley, but the spirit and genuine 
ness of feeling with which they sang. 



John Wesley was born at Bpworth in 1703. He inherited his 
mother's organizing and administrative ability, no less than 
her deep religious nature. He was to Methodist hymnody 
what John Calvin was to the Reformed psalmody, its initiator 
and director. He added a critical power and a practical sense 
o relation of means to ends his younger brother lacked 
Charles Wesley wrote the hymns and John winnowed and 
edited them. At Oxford he was called the "Father of the 
Holy Club." His aggressive spirit drove him to Georgia as a 
missionary, where he was a misfit, but where he was subjected 
to needed spiritual discipline, and to the influence of the 
Moravian pietism and absorption in spiritual things, so valu 
able for his symmetrical preparation for his future work. It 
led to his conversion or, if you prefer, to his baptism of the 
Holy Spirit and that of Charles, in 1738, which opened out 
to them both a new spiritual dimension. It also led to his 
interest in the Moravian "Gesangbuch," or hymnbook, from 
the German of which he translated several hymns for his 
Charleston Collection. On his return to England he took an 
early opportunity to visit Herrnhut^ Saxony, the parent society 
of the connection. He was delighted with the atmosphere of 
piety and Christian song which he found there. His pietistic 
and mystical tendencies were greatly strengthened by his inter 
course with Count Zinzendorf and Rothe whom he there met. 
On his return to London John Wesley kept up his associa 
tion with the Moravian brethren for some time; but his active 
temperament could not long be content with their quiet, con 
templative attitude, nor could he overcome his dislike for the 
emphasis they placed on the merely physical aspects of the life 
and death of Christ which they had brought over from the 
Roman Catholic mystics. So they presently parted company 
to the advantage of the aggressive spirit the Wesleys were de 



John Wesley was a scholarly man who had acquired all the 
culture of seven generations of Intellectual family life and of 
the literary training of a great English university. He had 
the critical faculty well developed, a nice sense of the value 
of words, and the ability to marshal them for the expression 
of his thoughts. His sermons and his theological treatises 
reveal his logical and analytical mind. His feelings were 
strong, but not of the effusive character. 

With this type of mind, It was not strange that as a hymn 
writer he would succeed better as a translator than as an 
original hymnist. His Important contribution, therefore, con 
sisted of translations from the German of Tersteegen, Ger- 
hardt, Scheffler, Spangenberg, and Zlnzendorf, and the amend 
ment or even recasting of hymns by Watts, or of poems by 
George Herbert. Perhaps his greatest work In hymnody lay 
in encouraging as well as editing the work of his younger 
brother, Charles, 2 

In John Wesley's plans to elevate the degraded population 
of England both spiritually and mentally, the hymn bears an 
important part. His keen and critical literary faculty was 
brought to bear upon its cultural as well as spiritual aspects, 
and his drastic corrections and revisions, as well as his trans 
lations, did much to lift the hymnody of his age to a higher 
literary plane. 


Charles Wesley was born at Epworth in 1707, being four and 
a half years younger than John, He inherited a full portion 
of the family religious nature, but with his mother's mental 
energy he combined a double portion of the Wesley poetic 
temperament. With less of the rigid will of his older brother, 
he had a more sensitive spirit, a more emotional nature, a 
greater literary impulse. Critics scold that he wrote too 
much. 3 As well scold the mockingbird for being so prodigal 
of its notes or that it occasionally merely twitters. 



When he "got religion/* his religion made him sing. Did 
he rejoice? His joy found utterance in a joyous hymn, "O 
for a thousand tongues to sing." Had he trials? What more 
natural than a hymn of prayer, "My God, my God, to Thee 
I cry"? Was there a riot about him? A hymn of steadfast 
ness, "Thou hidden Source of calm repose," sang in his heart. 
The impulse to write was not always accompanied by creative 
insight, so, of course, he wrote inferior hymns. The urge to 
write was too spontaneous that it should wait for the critical 
attitude. Let John supply that! Charles had the joy of writ 
ing and John winnowed the product. There was chaff, of 
course, but the golden wheat cannot grow without chaff. 

It must not be assumed that Charles was only a hymn 
writer. Immediately on his conversion, he began to preach 
the need of the new birth, and for fifteen years he vied with 
John in field work in behalf of the new movement. With his 
background, his culture and education, his poetic nature and 
wealth of vocabulary and depth of experience, Charles might 
be expected to preach a vivid, glowing, flaming message 
and such was his style. His meetings carried him into all 
parts of England, Wales, and Ireland. 

What a team the Wesley brothers were! John with his 
masterly logical sermons and profound theological writings, 
Charles with his hymns and his sermons aflame with feeling, 
the Annesley organizing instinct in both of them. What a 
spiritual force they set in motion that transformed the spirit 
ual and moral life of England and saved its soul nay more, 
it swept around the whole earth, and determined the character 
of nations yet waiting to be born. 


By the necessities of the situation, by the character of the 
work, and by his own temperament, Charles Wesley was led 
to write subjective, emotional hymns, keeping personal ex 
perience to the fore. But his emotionality was not shallow 



sentiment, hot spontaneous and genuine feeling, based on 
clear recognition of the actual truths of the Scriptures. In a 
very Intense way he had actually experienced the sorrow for 
sin, the joy of salvation from its guilt and power, complete 
assurance of divine acceptance, the longing for divine com 
munion, the sense of the love of God as it planned and fash 
ioned his inner as well as his outward life, the certainty of 
safety from the power of sin in sanctification. He could 
write affecting invitations to sinners, for he knew their con 
dition and danger, and also the results of peace and joy, of 
power and efficiency, that the acceptance of Christ would 
bring. The truths of the Gospel In passing through the cru 
cible of his personality acquired an actuality, a poignancy of 
appeal, that made his hymns a mighty power, not only in the 
immediate campaigns of the Wesley brothers, but in the life 
and work of the Church in the generations to come. 4 


That was the difference between Wesley and Watts. The lat 
ter was objective, reasonable, formal. The majesty of a sov 
ereign God appealed to him. He delighted in the infinite per 
fections of the divine nature. He surveyed the wondrous cross. 
He trembled before it, as did the children of Israel before 
the Holy Mount. His attitude was that of the Old Testa 
ment. Watts viewed the sovereignty of God objectively; Wes 
ley felt the facts of salvation as actual experiences. 

Charles Wesley was subjective; he expressed the feelings 
that the truths of the Gospel produced in him. 5 

God to him also was great, but as a Saviour, companion, 
friend. Why should he tremble? He was not Moses view- 
Ing the burning bush, but John leaning on the breast of Jesus. 
He shared the ecstasies of the apostles and disciples portrayed 
in the New Testament. 

So Watts gives dignity and majesty to the early topics of our 
hymnbooks on the attributes of God, his worship, the awe of 



the soul In the presence of its sovereign Lord In hymns like 
"Before Jehovah's awful throne," "Great God! how infinite 
thon art," Til praise my Maker while I've breath/' "Jesus 
shall reign where'er the sun/' "Our God, our help in ages 
past," while Charles Wesley fills the sweeter, tenderer, more 
intimate departments of salvation, forgiveness, communion 
with God, with the odor of the spikenard of his heart in 
hymns like "Depth of mercy! can there be," "I know that my 
Redeemer lives," "Jesus, Lover of my soul," "Love divine, 
all loves excelling." How well these singers of the Lord's 
song supplement each other, and how much more symmetri 
cal and complete are our hymnals because both have writ 
ten in their own lines and styles! 

Which is the greater hymn writer? That is a mooted 
question that need not be decided here. In Scriptural con 
tent the older man is superior, as, at his best, he is in majesty 
of style. For formal services of worship his hymns are more 
fitting and impressive. On the other hand, Wesley was 
superior in quantity and in the number of hymns of high 
quality. It must be granted that he is more poetical, more 
graceful, more suave and human. His range is more exten 
sive, his emotion deeper and more noble. In immediate re 
sults on the lives of the people Charles Wesley is incompar 
ably richer than Watts, for his hymns then and since turned 
multitudes unto righteousness. 7 


Space is wanting, and the profit would be slight, to give a 
catalogue of the sixty-four original issues of hymns that John 
published from 1737 to 1790, the mass of them for the use of 
the evangelistic campaign. They were largely occasional, is 
sued to meet a pressing but only temporary need. They 
varied from a single sheet containing but a single hymn 
(Charles Wesley s hymn praying for his brother's long life) 
to the two volumes with two thousand and thirty short hymns 



on Scripture passages. It was not until 1780 that a regular 
hymnbook "for the use of the people called Methodists'" 
was issued, containing five hundred and twenty-five hymns. 


So practical a mind as that of John Wesley, who had from 
childhood engaged In sacred song, would not be expected to 
overlook the great importance of the tunes to which the new 
hymns were to be sung. In 1742 he printed a Collection of 
Tunes In which only three of the Old Version tunes appeared. 
Tunes were freely borrowed from the musical Supplement to 
the New Version, six were secured from German Moravian 
sources, and a few were new. Tunes were later supplied by 
Handel and Lampe; popular melodies which the Wesley s 
picked up In their preaching tours were also adopted. 

Some twenty years later fugal tunes became popular among 
the churches, but became known as "Old Methodist Tunes/* 
although they had never been officially recognized and had 
first been written in Scotland. 

When we regard the quantity and quality of the Wesleyan 
hymns, or their adaptation to the spiritual and evangelistic 
purposes for which they were written, or the body of teach 
ing they conveyed, or the spiritual fervor they created and are 
still creating in millions of souls, or the influence they exerted 
on all subsequent hymnody, we do not find the sweeping 
statement of Dr. James Martineau, the Unitarian divine and 
hymnbook editor, as exaggerated: "After the Scriptures, the 
Wesley Hymn BooJ^ appears to me the grandest instrument of 
popular religious culture that Christendom has produced." 


The contemporary prejudice against the Wesleyan hymnody 
was very strong and bitter. There were many influences 
against them: the conservative devotion to the psalm versions, 
"New" and "Old," the Nonconformist loyalty to the psalms 



and hymns o Watts, the Established Church's resentment 
against the revolters against established rule and custom with 
in her bounds, the formalist objection to what seemed to them 
the fanatical, extravagant, and effusive type of piety, the emo 
tional, subjective, experiential style of the hymns, and (worst 
of all!) the low social class that constituted the bulk of the 
followers of the Wesleys. The result was that both in Great 
Britain and in America the Wesleyan hymns crept very slowly 
into the hymnbooks of the churches outside the Methodist 
movement. It was many years before any appeared in the 
English church hymnals; even when they did, Charles Wes 
ley's name did not appear with them; it even happened that 
other writers were credited with them. In America, where 
the Methodists were the Salvation Army of their day, the 
Wesleyan hymns were slow of recognition. This was partly 
due to the general, almost fanatical, devotion to Watts* 

The Arrninian attitude of the Wesleys, as against the rigid 
Calvinism of both the Established and the Nonconformist 
churches, led to acrid theological discussions that intensified 
the opposition to the movement they headed. Even among 
those favorable to the spiritual reformation was there an ele 
ment antagonistic to the Wesleys. Whitefield, Toplady, and 
the Countess of Huntingdon were leaders in this revolt. 

The fact that Charles Wesley rather monopolized the writ 
ing of hymns undoubtedly had its adverse influence. John 
Wesley did not encourage others to write. 8 This accounts for 
the fact that comparatively few of their immediate associ 
ates wrote hymns, and some of these drifted into other rela 
tions. What else could a man expect who fearlessly amended, 
revised others' hymns, and then warned the general hymn- 
book maker regarding the Wesleyan hymns as follows: 
"Hymn-cobblers should not try to mend them. I really do 
not think they are able." 


Among these transient supporters was Edward Perronet 
(1726-1792) of Huguenot stock. He wrote "All hail the power 
of Jesus' name/ 1 which makes so noble a climax for many 
of our services. For a time he was a preacher in the Wes- 
leyan connection. He then adopted Calvinistic views, and 
joined the forces of the Countess of Huntingdon, preaching 
under her direction. His caustic Gallic wit, exercised against 
the Established Church, offended his patroness and he be 
came the pastor of a small congregation of dissenters. 

Another associate of the Wesleys was Thomas Olivers 
(1725-1799), who had small educational advantages, but was 
an indefatigable worker. One of his hymns has kept its place 
in our hymnals, "The God of Abraham praise." Montgom 
ery says of it: "This noble ode, though the essay of an un 
lettered man, claims special honor. There is not in our lan 
guage a lyric of more majestic style, more elevated thought, 
or more glorious imagery." 

John Bakewell, the head of a prominent academy at Green 
wich, was a local preacher o whom his tombstone, near to 
that of John Wesley in the cemetery of the City Road Chapel, 
records that "he adorned the doctrine of God, our Saviour, 
80 years and preached his Gospel 70 years." He is remem 
bered by the hymn, "Hail, Thou once despised Jesus," which 
is found in most of the current hymnals. 


There were no poetic restraints felt by the adherents of 
the Calvinistic wing of the Methodist movement as met the 
associates of the Wesleys, and the number of hymn writers in 
its ranks is larger. 

William Williams (1717-1791), "the Watts of Wales," spent 
his life in working in the Welsh Calvinistic-Methodist con 
nection. Early in his career the need of appropriate Welsh 
hymns was so pressing that recourse was had to a sort of 



Eisteddfod of hymn-writing in which he easily won first hon 
ors. He was an indefatigable preacher, taking all Wales for 
his parish. His chief claim to immortality is his hymn, "Guide 
me, O Thou great Jehovah/' originally written in Welsh, but 
soon used in the Whitefield Methodist Connection in Eng 
land. His missionary hymn, "O'er the gloomy hills of dark 
ness/' while not so popular, has had a wide use. 

John Cennick (17184755) was originally associated with the 
Wesleys as a preacher, but the burning question of Calvin 
ism separated them and he became associated with White- 
field and later with the Moravians. Two hymns of his were 
extremely popular both in Great Britain and in the early years 
of Methodism in America: "Jesus, my all, to heaven is gone/* 
and "Children of the heavenly King." The former was used 
as the verse basis of a great many "spiritual" choruses in pio 
neer times. His "Lo! He comes with clouds descending" was 
reshaped and rewritten by Charles Wesley and Martin 
Madan. The literary quality of his hymns is not high, but 
their sincerity and adaptation to universal Christian experience 
give them practical value. 

Augustus Montague Toplady (17404778) was associated 
with the Wesleys and with the Calvinistic-Methodist leaders, 
but was a Church of England clergyman. He wrote four hun 
dred and nineteen hymns; only a few continue in use. Not 
able among these is "Rock of Ages, cleft for me/' which has 
been almost universally used and most mercilessly amended 
and revised. It has been translated into many languages, 
Gladstone having translated it into Latin, Greek, and Italian. 

Montgomery says of Toplady's hymns: "There is a peculi 
arly etherial spirit in some of these, in which, whether mourn 
ing or rejoicing, praying or praising, the writer seems ab 
sorbed in the full triumph of faith." Another hymn of Top- 
lady's, "Deathless principle, arise," has been characterized as 
"almost peerless," but it is rather a reading hymn. 




While the Methodists were enriching the hymoody of the 
Christian Church, the Baptists were not idle. The second re 
formation of England did not leave them unaffected, even 
though they were not officially associated with it. 

Their chief hymn writer was Anne Steele (1716-1778), an 
invalid of great spirituality and piety and of much literary 
felicity as well as facility. She wrote one hundred and forty- 
four hymns and thirty-four versions of psalms. Her hymns are 
meditative in style, graceful and gentle in spirit. She is best 
remembered by her hymn of resignation, "Father, whate'er 
of earthly bliss." Other hymns still widely used are "Now 
I resolve with all my heart," the hymn regarding the Scrip 
tures, "Father of mercies, in Thy word What endless glory 
shines," and the (for her) enthusiastic hymn of praise to 
Christ, "To our Redeemer's glorious name." Her vogue in 
America at one time was very great. 

John Fawcett was another Baptist hymnist of note. He 
issued one hundred and sixty-six hymns, three of which are 
standards in our day: "How precious is the book divine," 
"Lord, dismiss us with Thy blessing," and "Blest be the tie 
that binds." Besides the duties of a heavy pastorate at Wains- 
gate (with a salary of less than two hundred dollars) he did 
a great amount of literary work. The third hymn mentioned 
above has done more for Christian unity than all arguments 
and commissions. 

Another hymn writer of note, who may be classed as a Bap 
tist, was Robert Robinson (1735-1790). Converted under 
Whitefield's preaching, he later took a Baptist pastorate at 
Cambridge. He was very active in a literary way. He began 
a History of Baptists in 1781 which appeared in 1790, but in 
spite of laborious research it did not reach the completeness 
he desired. Besides eleven hymns of but moderate value 
written for Whitefield, he wrote a Christmas hymn^ "Mighty 



God, while angels bless Thee" and the ever-useful and prayer 
ful "Come, Thou Fount of every blessing.'* This was an 
other favorite basis for "Spiritual" revival choruses in America. 
There was a lack of steadiness in his temperament. After 
writing A Plea for the Divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, 
he later came under suspicion as a Unitarian and Socinian. 

Samuel Medley was a midshipman in the navy, but being 
sorely wounded in a terrible naval battle off Cape Lagos, he 
refused to continue as a naval officer. During his recovery he 
was soundly converted under the influence of his grandfather 
Tonge. After being at the head of a school for a time, he 
accepted a Baptist pastorate. Medley wrote a number of 
hymns, of which "O could I speak the matchless worth/ 3 
"Awake, my soul, to joyful lays," "I know that my Redeemer 
lives," and "Mortals, awake, with angels join," are still found 
in most of our hymnals. He claimed no literary merit for 
himself, but his hymns have found a hearty response in Eng 
land, and even more in America. 

Joseph Grigg (1720-1768) was not a Methodist or a Bap 
tist, but a Presbyterian. He is further noteworthy as an 
"infant phenomenon," having written a very familiar hymn, 
"Jesus, and shall it ever be?" at the age of ten years. He was 
in humble circumstances at first, "a laboring mechanic." He 
was assistant minister in a prominent London Presbyterian 
church for four years, then "married well" and retired, still 
writing and preaching. His "Behold, a Stranger at the door," 
with a stirring tune by T. C. O'Kane, has been widely used 
in America as an evangelistic hymn with a refrain. 


-Chapter XVII- 



ALTHOUGH the Wesleys were Church of England clergymen, 
the tide of religious feeling they set in motion could not sweep 
over the mass of the population without its waves dashing 
across all ecclesiastical and traditional barriers. But John 
Wesley's somewhat arrogant spirit, the extreme methods 
which he found necessary to reach the lower classes, so des 
perately in need of a new religious impulse, above all, his 
sharp reaction against the high Calvinistic theology of the 
Church, repelled many who had been deeply affected by the 
Methodist atmosphere that enveloped them and had felt a new 
sense of obligation to bring back their people to a true re 
ligious life. 


The effectiveness of the spontaneous Methodist singing was 
evident enough and the Evangelical ministers of the Estab 
lished Church felt the need of collections of hymns that should 
achieve the same results without what seemed to them the 
doctrinal vagaries and emotional extravagances of the Wes- 
leyan hymns. Nor were they at first willing to set entirely 
aside the psalmody that had served the church for so many 
As might be expected, the earliest collections of hymns for 



use in the Established churches were largely based on Non 
conformist and Wesleyan materials., since most of their edi 
tors, and the churches they wished to serve, were under the in 
fluence of the Countess of Huntingdon, who in turn was in 
close touch with the Calvinistic-Methodist movement, 

One of the first of the collections of the Evangelical wing 
was that of Martin Madan, Psalms and Hymns, containing 
170 hymns without order or arrangement, except that sacra 
mental hymns had a department by themselves. Madan used 
a free hand in revising and remodeling the hymns he selected, 
sometimes for good, frequently for ill. He was quite a musi 
cian, supplying tunes, thirty-three of which were his own com 
position, of which "Huddersfield" and "Helmsley" still occa 
sionally appear in our hymnals. His book was used to a con 
siderable extent and helped to hasten the introduction of 
hymns in the Church of England. Other collections of the 
same name and type were issued by Berridge and Conyers. 

More important was Toplady's Psalms and Hymns, issued 
in 1776. Despite his virulent attacks on the Wesleys, he used 
quite a number of their hymns, without credit and drastically 
revised. His collection contained 418 hymns, some by Watts 
and by other Nonconformists. His revisions were not wholly 
on doctrinal grounds, but on literary as well "God is the God 
of Truth, of Holiness, and of Elegance. Whoever, therefore, 
has the honor to compose, or to compile, anything that may 
constitute a part of his worship should keep those three par 
ticulars constantly in view." In this remark, found in his pref 
ace, Toplady anticipated the later period of the literary hymn 
by Heber, Keble, and Milman. This collection continued in 
use for nearly fifty years. 


With the exception of this later collection of Toplady these 
hymnbooks were mere compilations. The impulse of this 
Evangelical wing to write hymns of their own did not long 



delay. The most notable o these hymn writers were John 
Newton (1725-1807) and William Cowper (1731-1800). They 
co-operated In the Issue of Olney Hymns, so called after the 
village of which Newton was the curate. 

John Newton was born In London. His mother, who was 
a pious Dissenter, and had dedicated her boy from his birth 
to the Christian ministry and had tried to train him in prepa 
ration for this work, died when he was but seven years old. 
He grew up to be a wild, profligate, wicked young man; he 
speaks of himself as "once an infidel and libertine, a servant 
of slaves in Africa." At the age of twenty-three he again 
came under religious influences and became an ardent Chris 

It was not until he was nearly thirty-nine years old that he 
entered the ministry of the Established Church, being ap 
pointed curate of the village of Olney. He had always had 
an impulse, even during his wildest years, to read and study 
and to add to his general culture. Hence, in spite of his 
vagrant life (having spent eighteen years on the sea) and his 
secular pursuits, he came into the ministry with a rough-hewn 
education, and a practical and resourceful attitude of mind, 
that served him well in his aggressive ministry. His spirit 
ual experience was deep and intense. He had been in close 
touch with Whitefield, the Wesleys, and other leaders in the 
great evangelistic movement. 

For his work as a curate in the Established Church, the 
hymns of Watts kcked the deep personal spirituality for 
which his own soul sought expression* The Wesleys sup 
plied that element abundantly, but their hymnbooks did not 
express his Calvinistic attitude, nor fit his local needs. His 
own urge to write hymns and his intimacy with Cowper, 
which undoubtedly seemed a providence, encouraged him to 
produce Olney Hymns, which contained 280 hymns by New 
ton and 68 by Cowper. 

Newton sympathized with Watts in his objection to pro- 



nouncedly poetic elements in hymns; in his preface he re 
marks that "the imagery and coloring of poetry, if admitted 
at all, should be admitted very sparingly." The book was 
dedicated to "the use of plain people," to promote the faith 
and comfort of sincere Christians. To secure these, "perspi 
cuity, simplicity, and ease" were sought. Yet some of New 
ton's best hymns closely approach the best of his friend, the 
poet Cowper, Genuine feeling gave lyric wings. 

Of his 280 hymns, the most successful in maintaining a place 
in our hymnals are: "Amazing grace! how sweet the sound," 
"Approach, my soul, the mercy seat," "Glorious things of thee 
are spoken," "Come, my soul, thy suit prepare," "How sweet 
the name of Jesus sounds," "Safely through another week/* 
"While with ceaseless course the sun," "One there is, above 
all others." What a noble chaplet of pearls for his Lord is 
this amazing contribution by the former "servant of slaves"! 

Newton's famous coworker on the Olney Hymns, William 
Cowper, was the son of one of the chaplains of George II and 
was born in Hertfordshire in 1731. He was frail and shy, and 
had a very painful experience among the boys of the West 
minster School which he attended for ten years. Doubtless 
his later mental affliction was due in large part to the bully 
ing of his schoolmates. He studied law, but did not find it to 
his taste. At the age of thirty-six he moved to Olney, where 
he met John Newton, who became his close friend and pro 
tector as well as his leader in the writing of hymns. He co 
operated with Newton's religious work as lay reader and 
wrote his hymns for the cottage prayer meetings that were a 
feature in Newton's work. 

While his literary work shows no trace of his melancholia, 
being cheerful and even humorous, his hymns frequently 
show traces of it, notably in "God moves in a mysterious way" 
and "Oh, for a closer walk with God." Newton's habit of in 
trospection may have influenced him, and the obscurity of 
the people and of the occasions for which he wrote may have 



given him a sense of freedom in expressing Ms deeper, sub- 
conscious experience. He was an exceedingly spiritual-minded 
man. It was said of him by one who often heard him, "Of all 
the men I ever heard pray, none equaled Mr. Cowper/' He 
had a vivid and intense experience when he was converted: 
"For many succeeding weeks tears were ready to ow if I did 
but speak of the Gospel, or mention the name of Jesus. To 
rejoice day and night was all my employment. Too happy to 
sleep much, I thought it was lost time that was spent in 

Cowper 's literary work was done after he was fifty years 
old indeed, after his contributions to Olney Hymns had been 
made. His hymns were really preliminary studies for his 
secular work. 

Cowper made a very important contribution to the Chris 
tian hymnody of the ages: "God moves in a mysterious way," 
"Oh, for a closer walk with God," "Jesus, where'er thy people 
meet," "Sometimes a light surprises," "There is a fountain 
filled with blood," "Hark, my soul, it is the Lord," which will 
all survive as long as devout hearts meditate and sing, Olncy 
Hymns was very widely accepted and had more to do with 
the introduction of hymns into Anglican services than any 
other hymnbook up to that time. It was speedily reprinted in 
America and was very popular there. 

Beyond all its Church of England predecessors, it estab 
lished the ideal of the hymn as evangelical, as an expression of 
personal spiritual experience, as a vehicle for the conveying of 
spiritual truth. It was closely akin to the Methodist ideal, but 
more sober and sedate, with less of the poetical element. The 
hymnbook was the crystallizing force of the Evangelical party 
and its unifying discipline. It did not win the co-operation of 
the whole Church, by any means, but it prepared the way for 
the final acceptance of the hymn as an inherent part of the 
church service in that communion. 

While the Olney Hymns continued in use by the Evangeli- 



cal wing of the Established Church, there continued to be 
Psalms and Hymns issued by various compilers, Basil Woodd, 
Simeon Bidulph, Cecil Venn, and others, all giving increas 
ing attention to the hymns, and extending their use, in the 
church service. 

If in the actual singing hymn up to this time there had been 
any definitely literary quality or poetic spirit, it had been in 
spite of a theory that the hymn must be plain and simple 
and adapted to plain people, as in those of Watts and New 
ton, or somewhat unconsciously so by reason of an imagina 
tion vitalized by deep feeling, as in those of Charles Wesley. 
The hymn had been a practical religious vehicle for express 
ing feeling and impressing truth, not an artistic and a literary 

From this time on the Romantic movement in literature 
began to affect the ideal of the hymn. Since the hymn was to 
become a part of the religious service, instead of a Noncon 
formist addition to the sermon, and since the metrical psalm 
was to pass away because of its literary shortcomings and ab 
surdities, it was felt that the opportunity had come to put a 
higher literary quality, a more vivid imagination, a more 
definitely poetic element into the hymn hence the literary 
singing hymn came into being. 

This was all the more opportune, since literature was turn 
ing to religion for its themes. Coleridge issued his Religious 
Musings, Wordsworth his Ecclesiastical Sonnets, Moore his 
Sacred Songs, and the libertine Byron his Hebrew Melodies. 
In 1807 the literary remains of the lamented Henry Kirke 
White, including his ten hymns, among which was the sub 
lime "The Lord our God is clothed in might" and his spirit 
ually autobiographical "When marshalled on the mighty 
plain," were edited by Robert Southey. It is also worth while 
noting that from 1809 to 1816 Reginald Heber printed his 



religious poems and his hymns. In 1827 John Kebie's The 
Christian Year made Its appearance with Its materials for 
singing hymns. In the same year the hymns of Bishop Heber 
and of Henry Hart Milman greeted the Christian public, 

As early as 1809 Heber was considering the use of a hymnal 
In his parish church. In 1811 he published four hymns In the 
Christian Observer as specimens of a series he was contem 
plating. He proposed a hymnbook that should be "a collec 
tion of sacred poetry." He sought the help of Sir Walter 
Scott, Robert Southey, and other literary men of prominence, 
but only Henry Hart Milman, the great church historian, re 
sponded. The ecclesiastical authorities sympathized, but 
thought the church unready for an authorized hymnbook. 

After Heber's death in India In 1826, his widow brought 
the manuscript back to England and It was published in 
1827 not as a hymnbook, however, but in the form and style 
of current poetic issues. In this book appeared fifty-seven 
hymns by Heber and twelve by Milman. Having due regard 
to its size, it was probably the richest contribution ever made 
to Christian hymnody. 

After the lapse of a century, his hymns are still in current 
use, many of them inevitable in every hymnal whether churdh- 
ly or popular, such as "From Greenland's Icy mountains," 
"Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty," "The Son of God 
goes forth to war," "By cool Siloam's shady rill," "Bread of 
the world, in mercy broken," "Brightest and best of the sons 
of the morning." 

The beauty of Heber 's style was recognized from the first, 
His hymns were distinctly literary in flavor, poetically con 
ceived, with varied rhythms and forms of stanza. But he did 
not transgress the limitations of the singing hymn, as had 
the literary men of a century and more before, nor did he 
ignore the practicability of the small number of verses. The 
hymns were poems, but they were congregational hymns none 
the less. But they might have been all this and yet perished 



by the way. It was their deep spirituality, their lucid expres 
sion of Christian truth, transmuted by intense conviction and 
personal experience into a personal appeal that was abiding, 
that have made them immortal. 

Dean Henry Hart Mihnan (17914868) was a brilliant 
scholar and church historian and a poet o great reputation. 
His hymns are strong, churchly, thoughtful to a high degree, 
but they lack the poetic charm of those o Heber. Of the 
eleven that appeared in Heber's posthumous collection, and 
of others that were printed later, only one, his Palm Sunday 
hymn, "Ride on, ride on in majesty," is certain to be included 
in every hymnal The litany, "When our hearts are bowed 
with woe," and "Oh help us, Lord, each hour of need," are 
only occasionally used. 

Like Saul among the prophets, we find the author of Lalla 
Rooty, Thomas Moore (17794852), enrolled among our Eng 
lish hymn writers. The charm of his secular verse and songs 
is found also in his Sacred Songs, from which his ever-useful 
and tender "Come, ye disconsolate" has been taken; it is 
found in most of our hymnals. Less often do his "Sound the 
loud timbrel o'er Egypt's dark sea" and "O Thou who driest 
the mourner's tear" find a place. Not directly associated with 
ecclesiastical circles and lacking in religious fervor, he yet de 
serves a place among distinctly literary hymn writers. 

No small factor in the development of the literary hymn 
was The Christian Year by John Keble (17924866). It was 
not a collection of hymns, but a series of poems appropriate to 
all the several sacred times and seasons; but out of it were 
salvaged a number of hymns that have served the needs of 
high liturgical churches on special days. Hymns Ancient and 
Modern, the High-Church hymnal so popular in Great Brit 
ain and its dominions, contains no less than eleven of these 
adapted hymns. The Christian Church at large is a grateful 
debtor to this devotional poetry for the two hymns, "Sun of 
my soul, thou Saviour dear," the evening hymn, and "The 



voice that breathed o'er Eden," the wedding song. Beyond 
the value of these excerpts from his poems was the poetic 
stimulus that enriches all subsequent hyixmody by raising the 
literary quality of the ideal hymn. 

It was this literary quality of the work of the foregoing 
writers, their definite recognition of the liturgic needs of the 
Church, and their high church ideals and sympathies, that 
won the final victory of the hymn over the metrical psalm in 
the Church of England. This party had been the last strong 
hold in England of metrical psalmody. 


Although contemporary with the foregoing romantic school, 
Thomas Kelly (1769-1854), originally an Evangelical Church 
of England clergyman, later on an Independent, was not 
particularly influenced by them. He was an indefatigable 
hymn writer; his collection of Scripture Hymns finally con 
tained 765 hymns, all original. His ideal was still that of 
Watts, Wesley, and Newtonthe useful hymn. He had no 
conscious striving after literary quality, but, like Newton, fre 
quently rose to a high standard in this particular when lifted 
by his theme. He was an earnest, pious, zealous, enthusiastic 
preacher, and liberal with his large wealth. His influence in 
Ireland was widespread and counted largely for piety and for 
evangelistic aggressiveness. 

Some of our most widely used hymns are from his pen: 
"Hark, ten thousand harps and voices," "Look, ye saints, the 
sight is glorious," "On the mountain's top appearing,** "The 
Head that once was crowned with thorns," "Zion stands with 
hills surrounded." 

Another distinguished contemporary, James Montgomery 
(1771-1854), was probably more directly influenced by the 
literary impulses of the times. A Moravian layman, the son of 
a Moravian minister, he was a professional writer and editor 
of a secular newspaper of considerable influence. For years 



a worldling, he was forty-two years old before he publicly 
professed his acceptance of Christ. 

He had written quite a good deal of secular poetry up to 
this time; now he turned to writing hymns, which he had 
ceased to do since he was a boy of fourteen. His poetry was 
highly appreciated at the time, but it is now forgotten, al 
though his hymns keep his memory green. He had served a 
full literary apprenticeship and had formulated his theories of 
the hymn its character, its content, its limitations before he 
began writing, so that his hymns have an average excellence 
and effectiveness that can be paralleled only by those of Bishop 
Heber. His critical attitude is very evident in his introduc 
tion to his second book, Christian Psalmist: "The faults in 
ordinary hymns are vulgar phrases, low words, hard words, 
technical terms, inverted construction, broken syntax, bar 
barous abbreviations that make our beautiful English horrid 
even to the eye, bad rhymes, or no rhymes where rhymes are 
expected, but above all numbers without cadence." It is not 
surprising that, with this keenly critical approach, he made 
many alterations in Cotterill's Selection of Psalms and Hymns, 
which he was asked to edit, nor that he almost rewrote the 
Moravian hymnbook on which he labored for twelve years. 

The list of Montgomery's widely accepted hymns is very 
large: The New Methodist Hymnal has 8, the New Presby 
terian Hymnal 9, Hymns Ancient and Modern (1904 Ed.) 13. 

The most widely used -of Montgomery's hymns are: "An 
gels from the realms of glory," "Forever with the Lord/' "Hail 
to the Lord's Anointed," "Hark the song of jubilee," "In the 
hour of trial," "Prayer is the soul's sincere desire," "Oh, where 
shall rest be found," "The Lord is my Shepherd, No want shall 

There are some minor writers in this and the succeeding 
generation that deserve passing mention. The man of a sin 
gle hymn sometimes strikes twelve. 



Among these is John Marriott (1780-1825), a Church of 
England vicar whose "Thou, whose almighty word" is In the 
first rank because o its dignity and sustained feeling. It is 
one of our best missionary hymns. 

James Edmeston (17914867), a London architect, served his 
day and generation with, hundreds of hymns for adults and 
children; only one of them has become a permanent addition 
to English hymnody, the evening hymn, "Saviour, breathe an 
evening blessing." 

Another layman, Sir Robert Grant (17854838), was con 
spicuous In his day as a statesman, and finally as Governor of 
Bombay; he was a man of deep piety and elevation of mind. 
He wrote a number of thoughtful and Impressive hymns, but 
he made his most permanent contribution to the Christian 
Church's sacrifice of praise in his noble "Oh, worship the King, 
all-glorious above," which Is in the first rank for its noble 
poetry as well as its profound devotion. 

Another writer of high merit Is the butcher's son, Henry 
Kirke White (17854806), whose death at the early age of 
twenty-one years, after writing at the age of seventeen some 
poems of such merit as to arrest the attention of the literary 
world, was a distinct loss to English hymnody. How great 
that loss can be judged from the high quality of his "The 
Lord our God is clothed with might," "Oft in danger, oft in 
woe," and his Christmas hymn, "When marshaled on the 
nightly plain." His struggles with poverty in seeking an edu 
cation, with skepticism In finding peace of soul, with dread 
disease to which he had to succumb, invest his story with a 
poignant pathos. 

Another hymnist deserving attention was Bernard Barton 
(1784-1849), a Quaker banker, twenty of whose hymns came 
into general use. Two of them seem to have won a perma 
nent place in our hymnody, "Lamp of our feet, whereby we 
trace" and "Walk in the light! so shalt thou know" not 
great hymns, but extremely useful. 



Henry Francis Lyte (17934847) entered the church as a 
profession, but presently was led into a deep religious experi 
ence by attending the dying bed of a neighboring clergyman 
who, too, had looked upon his work as a means of liveli 
hood. The fruit of this experience was the hymns that have 
been so loved and appreciated on both sides of the ocean. The 
favorites among them are "Abide with me! Fast falls the 
eventide/* "Jesus, I my cross have taken/ 5 "As pants the hart 
for cooling streams/ and "Praise, my soul, the King of 
heaven." The pathetic story of his last days has touched the 
hearts of God's people as they have sung his swan song, 
"Abide with me" the finest evening hymn of the Christian 
church if it is accepted as an evening hymn. 

That a Unitarian, Sir John Bowring (17924872), should 
have written so noble a hymn about the cross of Christ as "In 
the cross of Christ I glory," expressing all its spiritual implica 
tions, can be explained only by his orthodoxy of heart. His 
superficial reasonings were the outgrowth of his early educa 
tional and social environment, and were not in co-ordination 
with his deeper convictions. He was a voluminous writer. 
His extraordinary genius for languages is revealed in his 
series of "Specimens" from the poetry of no less than five 
European languages. Politically he was even more conspicu 
ous than Sir Robert Grant, but, like him, his name will be 
ever revered for a single great hymn, "In the cross of Christ 
I glory." Other hymns in common use are "Watchman, tell 
us of the night" and "God is love; his mercy brightens." 

Josiah Conder (1789-1855), the compiler of the Congrega 
tional Hymn Boo{, wrote fifty-six hymns for it, one of which 
is very impressive and worshipful, "The Lord is King! lift 
up thy voice," which will undoubtedly live through coming 
generations. His other hymns are uniformly good and of a 
high literary standard, but with less appeal. 

Cardinal Newman held that John Keble was the originator 



of the Oxford Movement 1 by his great Assize sermon on 
"The Great Apostasy" preached at Oxford, and by his em 
phasis of the church's calendar In his The Christian Year; but 
he can hardly be associated with the school of hymn writers 
that grew out of it, for some of them repudiated the literary 
hymn entirely. 

John Henry Newman (18014890) was the leader of the 
movement back to the ideals of the pre-Reformation church. 
He wrote some poetry, notably "The Dream of Gerontius," and 
a few hymns. Of these, "Lead, kindly Light, amid the en 
circling gloom" is the most widely known, because of its at 
tractive music, as he himself testifies. 'Traise to the Holiest in 
the height" is really a more serviceable hymn for actual church 

His disciples, Edward Caswall (18144878) and John Mason 
Neale (18184866), opened new veins of hymnic wealth in 
their translations from the Latin and the Greek, with which 
they greatly enriched the treasury of sacred song. In the en 
thusiasm evoked by their success, the suggestion was seriously 
made that all the post-Reformation hymnody be set aside to 
give way to the medieval and even earlier hymns! 

Caswall devoted himself to the Latin medieval hymns and 
sequences and made some surpassing translations, or, if you 
please, transformations e.g., "Jesus, the very thought of 
Thee," "The sun is sinking fast," "My God, I love Thee, not 
because," and "When morning gilds the skies" from the Ger 
man. He was a Church of England man, but in 1847 he en 
tered the Roman Catholic Church, following his leader, Dr. 

Dr. Neale did not leave the English Church, but was quite 
prominent in High-Church circles. He was intensely inter 
ested in the liturgies of his church, which led to his studies of 
the early Greek church and its breviaries. He brought to his 
translations of Greek hymns a literary skill, a spiritual insight, 
and a fervor that made him the primate among those who 



found their inspiration in these ancient books o service and 
breathed into these ancient lyrics the breath o modern life. 
Among his most notable successes are: "Art thou weary, art 
thou languid?" "Christian, dost thou see them?" "The day 
is past and over/' "Fierce was the wild billow," " 'Tis the day 
o resurrection," "Brief life is here our portion," "Jerusalem 
the golden." It must be remembered that these are not literal 
translations, but English hymns made up of ideas suggested 
by phrases in the originals. Only a poet imbued with devout 
feelings, responding to the vague suggestions of the often 
obscure originals, could have produced them. 

Another disciple of Cardinal Newman who also followed 
him into the Roman Catholic Church was Frederick W. 
Faber (18144863), a poet by the grace of God, a devout Chris 
tian, a man of intense convictions, but somewhat tempera 
mental and impulsive. Among his many good hymns are: 
"My God, how wonderful thou art," "There's a wideness in 
God's mercy" (sometimes beginning "Was there ever kind 
est Shepherd"), "O Paradise! O Paradise," "Hark, hark, my 
soul! angelic songs are swelling," "Faith of our fathers! living 
still.'* Few that sing the last-mentioned hymn realize that it 
refers to the faith of the Roman Catholic saints and that the 
hymn had to be cleansed of its Mariolatry before being used 
in our Protestant hymnals. Nevertheless, in its present form 
it is a very impressive and valuable hymn that has been re 
deemed from the propagandist vagary of its original writer. 

Still under the influence of the Oxford High, or Anglo- 
Catholic Church, we find Mrs. Cecil Frances Alexander, 
(1823-1895), the writer of many hymns, especially for chil 
dren, among which are a number that promise permanent 
usefulness: "There is a green hill far away," "Jesus calls us, 
o'er the tumult," "The roseate hues of early dawn.*' 

Bishop W. W. How (1823-1897) wrote a number of excellent 
hymns for his hymnal, Psalms and Hymns, some of which 
have since found their way into other hymnals. Perhaps those 



that have appealed most are "O Jesus, Thou art standing," 
"We^glve Thee but Thine own," "O Word of God incar 
nate," "Soldiers of the cross, arise," "Summer sons are glow- 
Ing." His hymns are thoughtful, devout, and full of tender 
feeling; their literary quality Is admirable. 

A very copious writer of the same generation was Frances 
Ridley Havergal (18364879), whose devotional poetry touched 
the heart of her generation to a remarkable degree. Her pen 
was quite facile, and not aU she wrote had more than tran 
sient value: but some of her hymns the Christian Church will 
permanently treasure: "Take my life, and let It be/' "I could 
not do without Thee," "True-hearted, whole-hearted," "Lord, 
speak to me, that I may speak/' "I gave my life for thee. 3 ' 
Miss Havergal was a woman of profound Christian experi 
ence, which is voiced by her hymns. 

Among the later writers is Sabine Baring-Gould (1834- 
1927), voluminous writer on a variety of topics as well as a 
fairly popular novelist. He wrote the stirring "Onward, 
Christian soldiers" for a local processional of school children 
and assured himself of an immortality by a half hour's writing 
that all his laborious literary work would not have won him. 
He also wrote an appealing evening hymn, "Now the day is 
over," that Joseph Barnby has made popular by his pleasing 
tune, "Merrial." 

In spite of Sir Walter Scott and Robert Burns and a num 
ber of minor poets, and in spite of a wealth of charming folk 
songs, to prove that the spirit of song dwells in the Scottish 
breast, Scotland has made but a small contribution to Eng 
lish hymnody. The metrical psalm ruled the Scotch religious 
heart with a rod of iron. Only during the last generation has 
Scotia almost unwittingly made an important contribution. 
Horatius Bonar (1808-1889) was an industrious writer on 
many topics. He allowed no hymns to be sung in his 
church, but by a strange anomaly he issued three series of 
Hymns of Faith and Hope in 1856, 1861, and 1866. While 



these hymns were being increasingly sung around the world, 
his church sang metrical psalms! More than one hundred 
of his hymns are in common use. Among them are the fol 
lowing: "I heard the voice of Jesus say/' "I lay my sins on 
Jesus/' "Go, labor on; spend and be spent/ 5 "Beyond the smil 
ing and the weeping/' "A few more years shall roll/* "I was 
a wand'ring sheep/' "When the weary, seeking rest," 

Another Scotchman, George Matheson (1842-1906), the 
blind preacher, has written, among many others, a hymn 
whose beauty and mystical suggestiveness has rapidly given 
it wide usefulness: "O Love, that wilt not let me go." For 
tunate in having a very pleasing and effective tune, St. Mar 
garet by Albert L. Peace, it promises to be a permanent foun 
tain of blessing. 


-Chapter XVIII- 



THE metrical versions used in New England were Ainsworth's 
in Plymouth and vicinity under Pilgrim influence, and Stern- 
hold and Hopkins 9 , where Puritan influence controlled. The 
New England ministers were scholarly and knew their He 
brew Bible. The Sternhold and Hopkins version was unsatis 
factory, not so much for its literary deficiencies, but because 
it was not literal enough, did not reproduce the Hebrew mi 
nutely enough. This led, as we have seen in Chapter X, to the 
Bay Psalm Book of 1640, which was widely adopted, although 
Sternhold and Hopkins still had its partisans. 

These versions could not but find sharp critics among a 
more or less scholarly ministry and in time their absurdities 
weakened their hold upon the New Engknd churches. 

The utter collapse of the congregational singing due to the 
lack of tunes in the psalm books, and the absence of com 
petent precentors, 1 hastened the revolt among some of the 
churches against the versions. Yet the tyranny of "use and 
wont" kept most of the churches in line, only a few of them 
adopting the later version of Tate and Brady. 

The interest aroused by the "singing school," and by the 
organization of choirs due to the multiplication of tune books, 
both English and American, delayed the abolition of the older 
metrical versions and postponed the introduction of Watts* 



Imitations and Hymns for several decades, but the complaints 
from the larger and more cultured churches and their schol 
arly ministers became more vociferous. 2 The combination 
of the absurdities of the metrical versions, and those created 
by the senseless repetition made necessary by the fugue tunes 
then in use, became unendurable. 


Watts* The Psalms of David Imitated was very well adapted 
to serve as an entering wedge. It brought a certain sanction 
by making David's Psalms the foundation. They were still 
psalms, not hymns, and so satisfied to some degree the claims 
of tradition, and placated those who would have balked at 
hymns of "human composure." Benjamin Franklin in 1729 
was the first to reprint the Imitation, but complained that 
the copies remained on his shelves unsold. The demand evi 
dently grew, for in 1741 he issued a second edition. The first 
reprint of Watts' Hymns appeared in 1739 in Boston. Three 
years later, in 1742, Franklin reprinted them in Philadelphia, 
and years later still, they were republished in New York. 

Whitfield's visit to America and the outburst of singing of 
the Great Awakening (1742), with its profound religious ex 
periences that could find no adequate expression in the Psalms 
alone, gave Watts 5 Hymns a larger opportunity. In 1744 the 
singing of Watts' Hymns was one of the diversions of the peo 
ple when they met together* 

It was not until after the Revolution that the introduction 
of Watts' Psalms and Hymns became general. There were 
a number of issues with such abridgments or changes as were 
made necessary by Watts' references to British conditions, by 
Joel Barlow, a patriotic poet, author of the Columbiad, and 
later U. S. Minister to France, and by Nathan Strong, Samuel 
Worcester, and Timothy Dwight, the distinguished president 
of Yale College. All these had considerable vogue, especially 
the last which contained metrical versions of the Psalms Watts 



had omitted and other psalms versified anew. President 
Dwlght's "I love Thy kingdom, Lord" appeared as a versifica 
tion of Psalm 137. It Is a classic, one of the two leading hymns 
on the Christian Church, and Is rarely omitted In our hymn 
als. Besides the Psalms it contained 263 hymns, 168 of which 
were by Watts. 

The contentions which had occurred over methods of sing 
ing the "Deaconing" or lining out of the hymns, the use of 
choirs, the fugal tunes now gave way to differences over 
the use of various editions of Watts, or over the use of hymns 
in church service. The tradition, happily unjustified now, 
that the music of the church constituted "the war department** 
seems to have been originated during that century of conflict. 


Wherever Watts had been able to overthrow the tyranny of 
the metrical versions, he seemed to have instituted a tyranny of 
his own, to the detriment of the development of an American 
hymnody. But here and there lonesome birds were singing 
songs of their own, early harbingers of the springtime of 
American sacred song. 

Samuel Davies, the eloquent President of the College of 
New Jersey, now Princeton University, began writing hymns 
in the middle of the eighteenth century that were accepted In 
English hymnbooks before they became generally known in 
America. Their quality may be judged from his hymn of 
consecration : 

"Lord, I am thine, entirely thine, 
Purchased and saved by blood divine; 
With full consent thine I would be 
And own thy sovereign right in me." 

The other verses are equally good, if not superior. 

Mather Byles, the brilliant Tory preacher of Boston, was a 
poet of no mean pretentions and in close touch with Swift, 



Pope, and Watts. He wrote hymns that served their pur 
pose In his day and generation, but have not been recognized 
since, partly because of his political attitude and his advanced 
views, being one of the first to use Watts' Hymns in his con 
gregation. His somewhat oratorical style is evident in his 
hymn on the greatness of God: 

"Who can behold the blazing light? 

Who can approach consuming flame? 
None but thy wisdom knows thy might; 
None but thy word can speak thy name." 

Another early songbird was Samson Occom, the Mohegan 
Indian, who raised the money in England which later be 
came the financial nucleus of the present Dartmouth Col 
lege. His autobiographical hymn, "Waked by the Gos 
pel's joyful sound/' was widely used in England and trans 
lated into Welsh, among whom it was used in their revivals 
and "led many hundred sinners to the cross of Christ." 

Harry Alline (1748-1783) was the most copious hymn writer 
of that early day, his Hymns and Spiritual Songs containing 
four hundred and eighty-seven hymns, all from his own pen. 

"Amazing sight, the Saviour stands, 

And knocks at every door! 
Ten thousand blessings in his hands 
To satisfy the poor," 

was quite a favorite for many years, but was finally sub 
merged in the larger tide of sacred song that sprang up 
through the years. 

The scholarly and eloquent Nathan Strong in his Hart 
ford Selection used several hymns of his own. His patriotic 
hymn, "Swell the anthem, raise the song," has had a long life 
of wide usefulness. 

While Watts still reigned supreme during the next quarter 
of a century, the impulse and the ability to write acceptable 



hymns was rapidly developing. Eccentric Elder John Leknd 
(1754-1851) among a lot of almost amusing trash wrote an 
evening hymn that had very wide acceptance. Dr. Duffield 
characterizes it as a "classic in its unpretending beauty/' and 
Dr. Charles S. Robinson esteemed it so highly as to exclaim, 
"May it live forever and ever!" Unfortunately the supply of 
fine evening hymns is so great that in the competition Leland's 
hymn has fallen by the way. The last verse will enable the 
reader to savor its quality: 

"And when our days are past, 
And we from time remove, 
Oh, may we in Thy bosom rest. 
The bosom of Thy love." 

How many ministers who sing "Coronation" so heartily 
are aware that the composer, Oliver Holden (1765-1844), was 
a hymn writer as well as a musician? Yet one of his hymns 
had a wide use in both America and England: 

"They who seek the throne of grace 
Find that throne in every place; 
If we live a life of prayer, 
God is present everywhere." 

After a long and useful life, it, too, has practically disappeared 
from our hymnals. 


By 1824 the evangelistic movement, pardy a heritage from 
the Great Awakening, partly due to the Methodist aggressive 
ness, and pardy to the religious needs of a widely scattered 
and pioneer population, made it evident that the hymns of 
Watts and his school, with minds set on worship in more or 
less formal services for the edification of the elect, and ignor 
ing the needs of an urgent discipling, were not fitted for re 
vival work. Rev. Asahel Nettleton, an evangelistic minister 
greatly interested in foreign missions, issued his Village 



Hymns, containing six hundred hymns, only fifty of which 
were by Watts. Some of Charles Wesley's hymns were in 
cluded, but most of these were credited to other authors. 
While other English sources were drawn upon, the book was 
noteworthy for the American hymns that appeared in it. 
Hymns by Davies, Occom, Alline, Strong, and Dwight were 
used. An eager quest for new American hymnists was re 
warded by contributions from William B. Tappan (" 'Tis mid 
night; and on Olive's brow" and "The ransomed spirit to 
her home"); from Phoebe Hinsdale Brown ("I love to steal 
awhile away"); and from Abby B. Hyde ("Dear Saviour, if 
these lambs should stray"). 

William B. Tappan (17944849) was a largely self-educated 
man, having attended school but six months. His hymn 
"There is an hour of peaceful rest" was widely published in 
America and England, and on the Continent, and used to be 
inevitable in the hymnbooks of sixty years ago. His " 'Tis mid 
night; and on Olive's brow" still holds its place, though large 
ly descriptive, but none the less impressive and useful. 

Mrs. Phoebe Hinsdale Brown (1783-1861) still is represented 
in most of our hymnals by her "I love to steal awhile away," 
with its pathetic story of her misunderstood habit of prayer 
among the scenes of nature. Greater than the hymn, valu 
able as it has been, is her contribution to the progress of 
Christ's Kingdom in the work of her missionary son, Rev. 
Samuel R. Brown, in China and Japan and that of her grand 
sons in the latter country. 

But the revival took on an intenser form under the preach* 
ing and praying of Charles G. Finney and, bright as was the 
spirit of the Village Hymns f it called for something more 
vigorous and with a greater appeal to the unsaved people who 
were to be won, especially ia the music. Rev. Joshua Leavitt, 
a Congregational minister, a militant reformer, enemy of in 
temperance and slavery (a dangerous attitude in those days), 
and an ardent believer in the revival work of Finney, issued 



his The Christian Lyre in 1830, which created quite a sensa 
tion. Its hymns did not differ much from those o Village 
Hymns, but it was more practical in that it supplied the 
music on the page opposite to each hymn, no small advance 
on the ponderous tune book that had to be held in one hand 
and the hymnbook in the other. Lowell Mason and Thomas 
Hastings had been editing these tune books filled with dull 
and stupid music, in whose abundant chaff an occasional grain 
of gold occurred, which the Christian Church has been glad 
to cherish. The music in The Christian Lyre was bright and 
popular, being secular melodies the people were singing. 
Leavitt had taken a leaf out of the book of the old mass- 
writers, who used popular melodies for their descants, and of 
Luther and Bourgeois, in taking popular tunes to reach the 
people. It was an anticipation of Horace Waters' policy in 
his Sabbath School Bell in 1859. It was also an anticipation of 
Moody and Sankey's Gospel Hymns, except that Leavitt had 
no Fanny Crosby or Lydia Baxter to supply new texts, and 
no reserve of popular music by Lowry, Doane, Bliss, and 
others to draw upon. 

As Horace Waters stimulated Bradbury into developing 
the popular Sunday school music, one of whose by-products 
was the Gospel song, so Leavitt stirred up Mason and Hast 
ings to begin the issue in 1832 of Spiritual Songs for Social 
Worship, in twelve parts, more nearly the archetype of the 
future Gospel Hymns. The Christian Lyre left no residuum 
for future generations, but Spiritual Songs, edited by men of 
wide experience, in touch with the most cultivated clerical cir 
cles of the day, one of them a hymnist of both facility and 
felicity, made important permanent contributions not only to 
American but to universal Christian hymnody. 

In this collection appeared Thomas Hastings* "Hail to the 
brightness of Zion's glad morning," "Gently, Lord, O gently 
lead us," "How calm and beautiful the morn/* "Child of sin 
and sorrow." Here also appeared his enlargement of Thomas 



Moore's "Come, ye disconsolate." Add to these his tunes "Or- 
tonvilie," "Retreat," "Zion," "Toplady," and others and his 
other hymns, "Return, O wanderer, to my home," "Delay not, 
delay not, O sinner, draw near," "The Saviour bids thee watch 
and pray," and it will be seen that Thomas Hastings, even 
if he is not in the first rank as hymnist or composer, deserves 
well of the Christian Church. 

In this same volume of Spiritual Songs first appeared Rev. 
Samuel R Smith's two great hymns, "The morning light is 
breaking" and "My country, 'tis of thee." He was still a 
theological student, twenty-four years of age, when these were 
written. The theme of the latter was suggested in a general 
way by Lowell Mason, who needed a patriotic song for his 
children's singing schools, and who supplied him with some 
music he had recently received from Germany. During a 
leisure moment his eye fell on "Heil dir im Sieger-Kranz," 
the German "God Save the King," written to the English 
tune, "God Save the King." This latter fact he did not know, 
but liked the tune and was moved to write unknowingly our 
National Hymn. Sung by Lowell Mason's children's chorus, 
it was rapidly introduced and was presently viva voce accepted 
as the long-desired National Anthem. Practically an impro 
visation, not intended for wide use, it is open to criticism; but 
it is greatly superior to its only competitor for national honors, 
"The Star-Spangled Banner," because of its practicability in 
singing, its dignity, and its noble expression of the American 
spirit. That it refers to hills and not to prairies, and speaks of 
"pilgrim's pride" (without the capital) is open only to cap 
tious criticism. 

His "The morning light is breaking" was due to the mis 
sionary spirit that was prevalent in the theological seminaries 
during that period. It is the peer of Heber's "From Green 
land's icy mountains" as a missionary hymn; many recent 
critics greatly prefer it. 

Another great hymn that made its premier appearance in 



Spiritual Songs was "My faith looks up to Thee/' by Dr. Ray 
Palmer (18084887), set to one of Lowell Mason's best tunes, 
"Olivet." Meeting Dr. Palmer on the street. Mason asked him 
whether he had not an appropirate hymn for his forthcoming 
book; young Palmer remembered he had some verses in his 
pocketbook and handed them to Mason. Meeting Palmer a 
few days afterwards on the street. Mason with great earnest 
ness exclaimed: "Mr. Palmer, you may live many years and 
do many good things, but I think you will be best known to 
posterity as the author of 'My faith looks up to Thee!* " The 
prophecy, so literally fulfilled, speaks well for Mason's critical 
acumen. Ray Palmer, despite Bishop Wordsworth's objec 
tion to the pronouns of the first person, wrote "My faith," "I 
pray," "my guilt," for his hymn was not intended to be 
sung, but simply to express his own spiritual experience. It 
was a personal prayer none the less that it took a metrical 
form. It is one of the great factors in its world-wide appeal 
that it becomes the personal expression of every individual 
who sings it. 

But Dr. Palmer was not the author of only a single song: 
he wrote many others of almost equal value. Writing a 
sermon on the words of Peter, "Jesus Christ, whom having 
not seen ye love," he was suddenly overwhelmed by his rap 
ture of love for the Christ, and, the sermon forgotten, he wrote 
down the hymn the church will never allow to die: 

"Jesus, these eyes have never seen 

That radiant form of thine; 
The veil of sense hangs dark between 
Thy blessed face and mine. 

I see thee not, I hear thee not, 

Yet art thou oft with me; 
And earth hath ne'er so dear a spot 

As where I meet with thee." 

In his dying hour he was heard to repeat with broken voice 
the last stanza of this hymn: 



"When death these mortal eyes shall seal. 

And still this throbbing heart. 
The rending veil shall thee reveal. 
All glorious as thou art." 

Other important hymns of Dr. Palmer's are: "Come, Jesus, 
Redeemer, abide Thou with me," "O Jesus, sweet the tears 
I shed," "Take me, O my Father, take me," "O Christ, the 
Lord of heav'n, to Thee," "Come, Holy Ghost, in love." His 
translation o "Jesu, dulcedo cordium," the Paris cento of 
"Jesu, dulcis memoria," by an unknown Spanish abbess, is 
most highly esteemed: "J esus > Thou joy of loving hearts." 
This cento is made up of selected verses from "J esu > dulcis 
memoria," from which Edward Caswell took his admirable 
"Jesus, the very thought of Thee." 

Dr. Leonard Bacon (1802-1881), the son of a missionary 
among the Indians of Michigan, is noteworthy in two par 
ticulars: he issued, at the age of twenty-one, the first collec 
tion of missionary hymns printed in America, and he wrote 
the New England patriotic hymn still used in our churches, 

"O God, beneath thy guiding hand 

Our exiled fathers crossed the sea; 
And when they trod the wintry strand 
With prayer and psalm they worshiped Thee." 

Born in Detroit, he sang the praise of the divine hand that 
founded the New England churches. 


While the Anglican Church remained faithful to the tradi 
tional metrical versions well into the nineteenth century, the 
American Episcopal Church was hospitable to hymns much 
earlier. Already in 1789 the House of Bishops ratified the 
addition of hymns to the psalter. From decade to decade the 
demand for additional hymns grew until in 1823 William A. 
Muhlenberg, a rector of Lancaster, Pa., issued his Church 



Poetry consisting of psalms and hymns, which was adopted 
by the rectors of other Episcopal churches. In 1827 appeared 
Hymns of the ProtesMnt Episcopal Church, the majority of 
whose hymns were by Watts, Doddridge, Steeie, and Charles 
Wesley. Its most distinctive feature was the new hymns sup 
plied by five Episcopal writers. Dr. H, U. Onderdonk, Dr. 
William Augustus Muhlenberg (1796-1877), Bishop George 
W. Doane (17994859), J. W. Eastbura, and Francis S. Key 

Of Dr. Onderdonk's nine hymns one came into general 
use, "The Spirit in our hearts." 

Dr. Muhlenberg was more successful, for three of Ms five 
are recognized as a part of American Hymnody: "I would not 
live alway; I ask not to stay/' "Shout the glad tidings, cxult- 
ingly sing," and the baptismal hymn, "Saviour, who thy flock 
art feeding." 

Bishop Doane was represented by two hymns, both of 
which still find a place in our hymnals: "Thou art the way; 
to thee alone," "Softly now the light of day." The latter is 
one of our most acceptable evening hymns. Fully as useful 
is his vigorous missionary hymn, which, with its very ap 
propriate tune, "Waltham," by J. Baptiste Calkin, is adding 
inspiration everywhere to the cause, 

"Fling out the banner! let it float 

Skyward and seaward, high and wide; 
The sun, that lights its shining folds, 
The cross, on which the Saviour died/ 1 

Francis S. Key, the well-known writer of "The Star-Span 
gled Banner," to whom Baltimore has erected an elaborate 
statue, furnished a fine hymn of praise, "Lord, with glowing 
heart Fd praise Thee." 


The production of original hymns in New England took a 
peculiar course. After Samuel F. Smith, the spirit of praise 



left the Orthodox churches and took refuge with the osten 
sible Unitarians. The reaction against the rigid and harsh 
Calvinism was not so much against the doctrine of the deity 
of Christ, as against the false corollaries drawn metaphysically 
from the noble doctrine of the Sovereignty of God, as well as 
the crass, materialistically conceived, conception of the state 
of the impenitent dead, that was painted so luridly and of 
fensively in song as well as in sermon. 

Henry Ware, Jr. (1794-1843), was the son of Professor 
Henry Ware, who held the chair of Divinity in Harvard Col 
lege for thirty-five years. He himself became professor of 
Pulpit Eloquence and Pastoral Care in the same institution in 
1830. The pastor for thirteen years of a prominent Unitarian 
church in Boston, he never wavered in his faith in the deity of 
Jesus Christ. How otherwise could he have written that tri 
umphant Easter hymn: 

"Lift your glad voices in triumph on high, 
For Jesus hath risen, and man cannot die; 
Vain were the terrors that gathered around him, 
And short the dominion of death and the grave." 

William Cullen Bryant (1794-1878), America's first great 
poet, wrote five hymns for Henry D. Sewall's Unitarian 
Church hymnal in 1820. He was a member of the First 
Congregational Unitarian Church in New York City. Yet in 
1865 he could write a hymn containing the following stanza: 
"Lo! in the clouds of heaven appears 

God's well-beloved Son; 
He brings the train of brighter years; 

His Kingdom is begun; 
He comes, a guilty world to bless 
With mercy, truth, and righteousness. 5 * 

In 1875 he could still write in a hymn on "The Star of 

"Yet doth the Star of Bethlehem shed 
A luster pure and sweet; 



And still it leads, as once it led, 
To the Messiah's feet." 

An even more remarkable Unitarian was Oliver Wendell 
Holmes (1809-1894), the great physician, but even greater 
poet. He had the reputation of being rather radical in his re 
ligious views; he was a humorist whom human life rather 
amused than impressed seriously (though he was tender 
enough to human suffering), but, when a hymn seemed an 
appropriate close for one of his genial essays, he could write, 

"Lord of all being, throned afar, 
Thy glory flames from sun and star; 
Center and soul of every sphere, 
Yet to each loving heart how near." 

But unless in the deeper depths of his soul there still lin 
gered faith in Jesus Christ as the Son of God, how could he 

"O Love divine, that stooped to share 

Our sharpest pang, our bitterest tear, 
On thee we cast each earthborn care; 
We smile at pain while thou art near." 

Especially that last verse of unshaken faith: 

"On thee we fling our burdening woe, 

O Love divine, forever dear; 
Content to suffer while we know, 
Living and dying, thou art near. 5 * 

What might not Oliver Wendell Holmes have done for 
Christian hymnody, had he had Charles Wesley's evangelical 
experience and piety? 

Another Unitarian deserving recognition was Edmund 
Hamilton Sears (1810-1876), who is not remembered because 
of his successful pastoral career of forty years, nor by his theo 
logical treatises and religious writings, but by his two Christ- 



mas hymns, perhaps the best written in America (not forget 
ting Bishop Brooks' "O Little town of Bethlehem") "Calm 
on the listening ear of night" and "It came upon the mid 
night clear." The first was written soon after his graduation 
from Harvard College in 1834, and the other in 1849 after he 
had been in the pastorate over a decade. Of course, he was a 
firm believer in the deity of Christ, else he could not have 
written these hymns. 

After Dr. Ray Palmer, our best American hymnist is John 
G. Whittier (1807-1892), who never aspired to such honors! 
His hymns have been most deftly extracted from longer 
poems and, despite their being mere fragments, are distinctive 
hymns in progress of thought and structure. Moreover, they 
are the very choicest passage in these longer poems. The 
additional marvel is that this Unitarian Hicksite Quaker, 
who was not taught to sing hymns in his youth, should have 
given finer expression than any other writer to the sense of 
present intimate communion with Christ: 

"But warm, sweet, tender, even yet 

A present help is He; 
And faith has still its Olivet, 
And love its Galilee." 


To this generation George Duffield, Jr. (1818-1888), may be 
said to have belonged. His hymn, "Stand up, stand up for 
Jesus," is never omitted from any reputable collection of 
hymns, liturgic or popular. He was a foremost figure in the 
Philadelphia revival of 1857 and 1858, being associated with 
Alfred Cookman, the Methodist, and Dudley A. Tyng, the 
Episcopalian, whose dying words suggested the hymn. 

Old Dr. Lyman Beecher was a giant in his day, but his chief 
glory was in his remarkable family of children. While Henry 
Ward was most conspicuous in his day, he was hardly more 
so than Harriet Beecher Stowe (1812-1896), the author of 



Uncle Tom's Cabin, which, with Hanby's Darling Nellie 
Gray, prepared the heart of the North to buy at a tremen 
dous cost o treasure and blood the Emancipation Proclama 
tion, But Mrs. Stowe is not simply a historic character whose 
work is done; she is living still in her hymns, notably the 
exquisite morning hymn, "Still, still with thee, when pur 
ple morning breaketh," a fitting mate for Lyte's evening 
hymn, "Abide with me; fast falls the eventide." 

Mention should be made of Anna Warner (1820-1915), 
whose children's hymn, "Jesus loves me, this I know/* set to 
Bradbury's simple pentatonic melody has girdled the globe. 
Other hymns by Miss Warner are "One more day's work for 
Jesus" and "We would see Jesus; for the shadows lengthen." 

Among later American hymn writers is Mary Artemisia 
Lathbury (18414913), who wrote "Break Thou the bread of 
life" (not a communion hymn, by the way) and "Day is dy 
ing in the West," with William F. Sherwin's tunes, which are 
to be found in all our hymnals and which are very tender^ 
very useful. 

The American Episcopal Church has supplied some admir 
able hymns through Bishop Arthur Cleveland Coxe (1818- 
1896), who wrote "Oh, where are kings and empires now/' the 
almost apocalyptic "We are living, we are dwelling/* and the 
missionary "Saviour, sprinkle many nations/* all hymns of 
high worth; and Bishop Phillips Brooks (18354893), whose 
"O little town of Bethlehem" is a favorite Christmas carol. 

Mrs. Frances Crosby Van Alstyne (1820-1915), familiarly 
known as "Fanny Crosby/' would be the premier hymn 
writer of America if the criteria were quantity and wideness of 
use. There can be no question as to the evangelistic and de 
votional value of her hymns, whatever their literary quality 
or permanent appeal may be. "Safe in the arms of Jesus/' 
"Rescue the perishing," "Blessed Assurance," "Pass me not* O 
gentle Saviour," "Saviour, more than life to me," "I am thine, 
O Lord, I have heard thy voice," "Jesus, keep me near the 



cross/ 5 and many others will probably be permanent in hym 
nals and song collections of a popular and evangelistic type. 

Valuable hymns of the same practical gospel song type 
have been written by Mrs. Lydia Baxter, Philip Paul Bliss, 
Annie Sherwood Hawks, Mrs. Ellen Huntington Gates, Rev. 
E. A. Hoffman, Miss E. E. Hewitt, Mrs. C. H. Morris, Presi 
dent J. E. Rankin, D.D., and many others. 

Mrs. Elizabeth Prentiss (1818-1878), daughter of the saintly 
and greatly beloved Rev. Edward Payson, wrote Stepping 
Heavenward, a book that stimulated and cheered multiplied 
thousands and lifted their spiritual ideals. Of her 123 Reli 
gious Poems, one has won a permanent place in our hymnals, 
"More love to Thee, O Christ." It is not a substitute for 
Mrs. Adams' "Nearer, my God, to Thee," but a complement. 

Other writers of single hymns that the Church has used 
with great effect are Dr. Washington Gladden's (1836-1918) 
"O Master, let me walk with Thee," a hymn of Christian 
service; Dr. Sylvanus Dryden Phelps' "Saviour, Thy dying 
love;'* Dr. Edward Hopper's "Jesus, Saviour, pilot me;" Dr. 
Joseph Henry Gilmore's (1834-1918) "He leadeth me, O blessed 
thought;" Ernest W. Shurtleff's (18624917) "Lead on, O King 
eternal;" Frank Mason North's (1850-1935) "Where cross the 
crowded ways of life"; the second, third, and fourth of the 
songs just mentioned have a Gospel song origin. 

More recent writers are Rev. Frederick L. Hosmer and Rev. 
William C. Gannett in whose The Thought of God are 
found hymns of deep piety and strong religious feeling. Room 
is made for two stanzas of Dr. Hosmer's "Found," 

"O Name, all other names above, 

What art thou not to me, 
Now I have learned to trust thy love 

And cast my care on thee? 

What is our being but a cry, 
A restless longing still, 



Which thou alone canst satisfy. 
Alone thy fullness fill?" 

A more important recent hymn writer Is Rev. Louis F. 
Benson, D.D. (18554930), the editor of the current Presby 
terian hymnals. This history o Christian hymnody cannot 
close more fittingly than to quote part o a stirring hymn by 
this greatest of American hymnologists: 

"Forward! singing 'Glory 

To our Lord the King*; 
Forward! Trusting only 

In the name we sing. 
See the day is breaking 

And the road points far; 
March, with eyes uplifted 

To the Morning Star. 

Blessed is the Kingdom; 

Blessed be the King! 
Crowned is every duty 

His commandments bring. 
Now to serve like soldiers, 

Now to work like men; 
Oh, to love as God loves 

And to conquer then." 




-Chapter XIX 



IT has been said that the two great books which every minis 
ter should study are the Bible and human nature. A third 
great book may be added, in which the foregoing two unite 
in a new combination the Hymnbook. 

In that collection of hymns the truths of the Bible find their 
expression in a new form. They are no longer Oriental in 
spirit, based upon human experiences under different condi 
tions and in a different intellectual atmosphere, but modern, 
and strong with a fresh vitality. They have passed through 
the crucible of intense personal feeling and experience, and 
have been recast in forms more comprehensible to a different 
race and to a different age. 

Next to his library of comment upon the Bible, and of 
exposition of its doctrines, should be that of the minister's 
hymnological books giving the history, the illustrations^ and 
the methods of making effective the hymns he uses in his 


The first line of the study of hymns should be contributory 
to his own personal development. 
Literary Pleasure. A great delight awaits the minister of culti- 



vated taste and sensibility, for there are not only ten really 
good hymns, as a famous literary doctor 1 once insisted, but 
hundreds of them, whose distinction and beauty of phrase 
ology, whose fresh and orderly development of ideas, and 
whose elevation and glory of thought give unfailing literary 
pleasure. How can one read Harriet Beecher Stowe's "Still, 
still with Thee/* that best of American morning hymns, with 
out exquisite delight? 

"Still, still with Thee, when purple morning breaketh, 

When the bird waketh, and the shadows flee: 
Fairer than morning, lovelier than daylight, 

Dawns the sweet consciousness, I am with Thee." 

Prominent among these literary hymns will be that hymn 
of majestic praise by Sir Robert Grant: 

"Oh, worship the King, all-glorious above, 
Oh, gratefully sing his power and his love; 
Our Shield and Defender, the Ancient of days, 
Pavilioned in splendor, and girded with praise. 

Oh, tell of his might, oh, sing of his grace, 
Whose robe is the light, whose canopy space: 
His chariots of wrath the deep thunderclouds form, 
And dark is his path on the wings of the storm." 

Here are majesty and beauty of thought, flawless phrase 
ology, and musical numbers. No editor has found excuse to 
alter or amend it. 

Even Isaac Watts, who boasted his freedom from literary 
trammels and who illustrated that freedom all too often and 
too perversely, proved his latent poetic powers in the noble 
poetry of 

"Our God, our Help in ages past, 
Our Hope for years to come, 
Our shelter from the stormy blast, 
And our eternal home." 



That the literary quality of Adelaide A. Procter's hymn, 
"My God, I thank Thee who hast made/ 5 is high no one 
would deny: 

"My God, I thank Thee, who hast made 

The earth so bright, 
So full of splendor and of joy. 

Beauty and light; 
So many glorious things arc here, 

Noble and right." 

The minor chord in the third verse but renders more poignant 
the high glory of her praise: 

"I thank Thee more that ail our joy 

Is touched with pain; 
That shadows fall on brightest hours, 

That thorns remain; 
So that earth's bliss may be our guide, 

And not our chain." 

There is a mine of inestimable literary wealth awaiting the 
search of discriminating taste. 2 

Literary Culture. But many ministers of limited native sus 
ceptibility to literary and poetic beauty, and perhaps of none 
too efficient literary opportunities, will not be able at once to 
enter into the delight of the literary qualities of hymns. All 
the more will it be important for them to study their hymnal 
for the sake of its opportunity for deepening their capacity 
for enjoying literary values. Their imaginations need to be 
stimulated. Their response to the charm of musical phrases, 
to the clearness and lucidity of the thought expressed, to the 
fitness of the unexpected and pleasing metaphors used, to the 
nice selection of the words employed to weave a garb of beauty 
for the message the hymn is intended to convey, can be and 
must be developed, if not only the proper appreciation of the 
hymns but also their highest efficiency as preachers are to be 



Few preachers realize the Importance of this literary culture; 
yet, apart from his deity, Jesus Christ was the greatest literary 
man the race has developed. His parables, his similes, his 
aptness of phrase, his wit, his clearness of style, despite the 
great topics on which he discoursed, cannot be paralleled in 
any literature. The literary value of the Gospels is one of the 
reasons of their agelong and race-wide appeal 

The effort of the preacher to sensitize his mind and spirit, 
in order to appreciate what his hymnal offers, will give him 
more of the extraordinary winsomeness of his Master's style. 

While not all hymns are distinctly literary in style and 
vocabulary, most of them have some poetical and imaginative 
qualities, and a great many of them have marked literary 
value. A careful canvass of these values will develop literary 
discrimination and taste. Hymns like Keble's "Sun of my 
soul, thou Saviour dear" and Heber's "Brightest and best of 
the sons of the morning" must stimulate genuine literary 
appreciation. To segregate carefully in his mind the genuinely 
literary hymns those that are full of imagination, symmetrical 
in structure, gracious in phraseology will be a literary exer 
cise of inestimable value. 

Development of Emotional Nature. But the finest literary 
discrimination and the highest literary delight cannot be se 
cured without an emotional responsiveness that ministers do 
not always bring to their reading of hymns. But this emotion 
must not simply be poetic, it must be spiritual, based on an 
actualization of the profound spiritual truths expressed in the 

The most common fault among ministers is an aridity of 
mind, a dryness of feeling, a habit of abstract, academic think 
ing which have no response to the emotional values in the 
doctrines they preach. It is the secret of many an empty 
church, of many a barren pastorate. 

To some men who lack emotional and poetic insight, the 
hymnbook may appear dry and uninteresting. It certainly is 



unappealing to the unsplritual man, no matter how poetical 
he may be, and this will account for the occasional attack 
upon the hymns of the Christian Church as being without 
poetical power or merit. But the Christian minister, who 
deals with spiritual things, for whom the emotions of the 
human heart are a great opportunity, ought to find In the 
study of his hymbook a great deepening of emotional Intuition. 
Here he comes In touch with the saints of the Church who 
have risen to the greatest heights of spiritual insight, and who 
have sung because the feelings within them were so impelling 
that they could not do otherwise than sing. His own deficient 
emotion and his own dull Insight into spiritual truth are here 
Inspired and stimulated until he too stands upon the moun- 
taintop. For his own spiritual edification, therefore, there Is 
nothing, outside the Bible, so likely to be of spiritual help as 
the hymnbook. When he is discouraged, Its hymns of Inspira 
tion and encouragement cannot but lift the cloud. When his 
heart is dull, and his vision of his Lord obscured, such hymns 
as "Jesus, I love Thy charming name," by Philip Doddridge, 

"Jesus, these eyes have never seen 
That radiant form of Thine," 

by our own Ray Palmer, or 

"Jesus, the very thought of Thee 
With sweetness fills my breast," 

by that unknown saintly abbess of the Middle Ages, surely 
will once more set his spiritual pulses in motion and thrill him 
with the vitalizing vision of his Lord. 

It is with this emotional attitude alone that a minister should 
study his hymns; otherwise, he will fail in realizing any of 
their values. To come to them coldly dissecting them with 
knife and scalpel Is to miss their beauty, their spiritual appeal. 
The minister who prays over his sermon would do well to 
pray with equal fervency over the hymns he studies and se 
lects. If he vitalizes them for himself, that fresh vision of 



their meaning will reach the congregation directly and in 


Not the least important consideration in the study of hymns 
is clearly to envisage their several effective values. To know 
the literary worth and the spiritual stimulus of a given hymn 
is most desirable; but to realize what spiritual results it is 
fitted to secure, and how, is even more important. Each hymn 
has its individual force, its individual adaptation to definite 
mental and spiritual results; for the minister not to recognize 
these varying effects is like the failure of a physician to know 
the differing reactions of baking soda and strychnine. To an 
nounce "All hail the power of Jesus* name," when the situa 
tion calls for the tenderness of "How sweet the name of Jesus 
sounds," is malpractice none the less that it is so frequently 

Classifying Hymns by Their Nature. It will be helpful to 
classify hymns, deciding to which group each one belongs. 
Some are purely didactic, bearing instruction rather than emo 
tion. Others are meditative, combining elements of instruc 
tion and personal experience. Another class expresses personal 
experience and the resultant emotion; such hymns may be 
tender or joyous or even exultant. Taking another step up 
ward, we find hymns of inspiration and exhortation, funda 
mental expressions of faith and enthusiasm. Rising high 
above all the foregoing are the hymns of worship and adora 
tion, thanksgiving and praise. 

This is the primary process in evaluating the practical 
possibilities of hymns. It is in these pigeonholes of his memory 
that the minister finds the hymn called for by a given 

Classifying Hymns by Their fitness for Definite Purposes. 
Then there is the classification of fitness for different pur 
poses,, organizing them according to the particular work each 



Is fitted to do. Some hymns are distinctly liturgical, fitting 
only into a solemn and stately service by the great congrega 
tion e.g., Faber's "My God, how wonderful Thou art," 
Watts' "Before Jehovah's awful throne/ 9 or Tersteegen's "Lo, 
God is here: let us adore." 

In a less formal class are Van Dyke's "Joyful, joyful, we 
adore Thee," Grant's "Oh, worship the King, all-glorious 
above," "Praise the Lord! ye heavens, adore Him," and many 
others in which rejoicing in the Lord takes a less majestic but 
none the less genuine form, fitting smaller assemblies and what 
without derogation may be called ordinary church services. 

Hymns of still another class, represented by Robinson's 
"Come, Thou Fount o every blessing," Wesley's "O Love 
divine, how sweet Thou art," Keble's "Sun of my soul, Thou 
Saviour dear," are still distinctly worshipful, but have an 
intimacy of communion in which tenderness and joy veil the 
sense of infinite majesty. 

The foregoing classes of worshipful hymns are available for 
the regular services of the church, although some of them 
call for a preparation of the worshipers for their intelligent 
and sincere singing. They are helpful to devout people in 
their approach to the Triune God. 

Jesus Christ is not only God in the fullest, truest sense; he 
is our Redeemer, our Mediator, our Sharer of the deeper ex 
periences of the soul, our Comrade in the march of life, our 
intimate Friend in time and eternity. Hence, there are many 
hymns of praise and adoration of Jesus Christ that are elevated 
in mood, even majestic, like Wesley's "Oh, for a thousand 
tongues to sing," Robinson's "Mighty God, while angels bless 
thee," Hammond's "Awake and sing the song," which will fit 
into the most exalted service of worship. There are many 
others like "Fairest Lord Jesus, Ruler of all nature," Medley's 
"Oh, could I speak the matchless worth," HavergaFs "O Sav 
iour, precious Saviour," which are keyed a little lower, but are 
still most appropriate for an average church service. 



In addition to these there are hymns o communion with 
Christ, of love for and delight in him, yea, even of intimate 
affection, like CaswalTs "My God, I love Thee, not because," 
Newton's "How sweet the name of Jesus sounds," Palmer's 
"My faith looks up to Thee," which are so fine in feeling, 
so heartfelt, so intimate, that they require preparation of the 
congregation before they can be sung sincerely. Some of them 
are so intense, like "I need Thee every hour," "My Jesus, 
I love Thee, I know Thou art mine," and Palmer's "Jesus, 
these eyes have never seen," that their use seems limited to 
assemblies, small or large, entirely made up of earnest believers. 
Indeed, there are many of our intensest hymns of devotion to 
our Lord Jesus Christ that can be worthily sung only in 
prayer meetings where there is profound emotion to be ex 
pressed. Some of them cannot be sung by the general congre 
gation except when the tide of religious fervor runs high. 

Without further analysis, enough has been said to show that 
in the practical classification of hymns two major factors must 
be considered: the character, depth, and quality of the emo 
tional burden of the hymn, and the character and the emo 
tional responsiveness of the people who are expected to sing it. 
Ignorance of the former and lack of proper diagnosis of the 
latter will bring defeat to the minister who is depending on 
his hymns for help in securing spiritual results. 


There can be no adequate knowledge of a hymn without a 
survey of the whole field of hymnology. It is necessary to 
understand the character and limitations of the hymn, to 
visualize its history and development, in order to secure its 
proper interpretation and use. It is unfortunate that too many 
ministers are satisfied with this general knowledge which is, 
after all, only a preparation for the study of the individual 
hymn. It is only in the individual hymn that the point of 
contact with practical results is reached. One may know all 



about Isaac Watts and yet know so little of his great hymn 
"When I survey the wondrous cross" as to announce It at a 
church banquet before all the people are done eating! 
Imagine John, Peter, and the rest munching dried gs or 
dates as they stand before the cross on which their Master is 

Only as the individual hymns are fully understood as to 
their meaning, and as to the methods required to get that 
meaning transformed into experience and character, can 
hymnology become a practical force. 

Analysis of the Hymn. 1. The first step is the investigation 
of its structure. The form of the stanza, the kind of measure 
used, the proper occurrence of accents, the schedule of rhymes 
all are important, controlling the music and the reading of 
the hymn. 

The logical structure is even more important as governing 
the development of thought. Recognition of the relation of 
the several verses to the general pkn of the hymn wiU reveal 
their individual value and prevent mutilation when circum 
stances demand omission of verses. This structure is more 
evident in didactic and homiletical hymns, of course, but the 
progress of thought usually lies near the surface. The doc 
trinal teachings should be clearly and explicitly thought out. 

2. There is a logic of emotion more or less paralleling that 
of thought. There are ebb and flow of feeling, radical change 
of feeling, one feeling merging into another, that must be 
recognized. The climaxes of interest in the succeeding verses, 
rising higher and higher and culminating in the supreme 
climax of the last verse, should be noted that they may be 
expressed in the reading and the singing. This recognition 
of the emotional character of the hymn is absolutely essential 
to its real effectiveness. The hymn is fundamentally an ex 
pression of emotion, and only as such has it practical value. 

3. After this general analysis of the structure and thought 
and of the general emotion of the hymn, there will need to 



be a study o Its detailed phrases. The minister ought to 
study it line by line and phrase by phrase. The Scriptural 
allusions need to be located and their connections noted. 
What did Charles Wesley mean in his great hymn, "Love 
divine, all loves excelling," by the phrase in the second verse, 
"the second rest*'? Why did he pray "Finish, then, thy new 
creation"? s What is the Scriptural justification for the phrases 
of Newton's "How sweet the name of Jesus sounds"? 4 In 
Doddridge's "Awake, my soul, stretch every nerve," what 
Biblical authority has he for "cloud of witnesses," or the ideas 
of "prize" and "race"? 5 What did Watts mean in the third 
verse of his "Not all the blood of beasts," 

"My faith would lay her hand 

On that dear head of Thine, 
While like a penitent I stand 
And there confess my sin"? 

Without the picture of the high priest laying his hands on the 
head of the scapegoat and confessing the sins of the people 
before sending it out into the wilderness (Lev. 16: 21), what 
meaning can these lines convey? 

The Background of the Hymn. 1. The interpretation of the 
hymn cannot be complete without a recognition of the person 
who wrote it. His type of mind, his responsiveness to divine 
truth, his conception of the work of the Church, stamp them 
selves on the product of his pen. The personality of Watts 3 
of Wesley, of Whittier, and of Faber interpret their several 

Knowledge of the circumstances under which a given hymn 
was written will add to the value and correctness of the inter 
pretation, by giving a sense of actuality to the thought and 
feeling expressed. 

2. The age in which a hymn was written will be a large 
factor in its interpretation. The sheer objectiveness of the 
ancient hymns, the meditativeness of the medieval hymns 



stressing the sufferings of Christ on the cross, the worship 
character of the pre-Wesley hymns, Including those of Watts, 
the warm, tender, experiential hymns of the Wesleyan Revival, 
all stamp their several hymns ineffaceably with their char 
acteristics. "A mighty fortress Is our God" bears the stigmata 
of the opening battles of the German Reformation. "Jesus, 
the very thought of Thee" Is permeated by the peace and ardent 
piety of the Spanish nunnery whose devout abbess wrote the 
Latin original. "Stand up, stand up for Jesus'* sounds the 
militant note of the great Philadelphia revival of 1857 and the 
Antislavery campaign that was so soon to drench the South 
with the noblest blood of both sections. 

Watts' hymns must be analyzed In the light of the prevail 
ing psalmody, of the religious aridity of his time, and of the 
formalism, not of the Established Church only, but of that of 
the Nonconformist societies as well. Wesley's hymns cannot 
be understood except as expressing the struggle between ex 
treme worldly-mindedness, sensuality, and social decay outside 
of the Church, allied with the mere formalism and the cold 
and sheerly pharisaic morality within, on the one side, and 
the emphasis of conversion, profound religious experience^ and 
aggressive evangelistic propaganda on the other. The ob 
jectivity and essentially liturgic spirit of Watts* hymns and the 
subjective warmth and the poetic glow of those of Charles 
Wesley immediately become full of meaning and historic 

3. The greater hymns gather about themselves the noble 
associations of the many generations which have lived and died 
with their lines upon their lips. Would "Rock of Ages, cleft 
for me" or "Jesus, Lover of my soul/* if written now, speedily 
win the place they now hold in our Christian hymnody? 
Would "Come, Thou Fount of every blessing" be widely 
sung, if it were not that in Engknd and America it had been 
an impressive voice of worship in chapel and home:, in stately 
church, and in mountain schoolhouse on die American fron- 



tier? Lips now trembling with age lisped them in childhood; 
memories of father and mother, of thrilling religious experi 
ences, when the very heavens seemed to open to the soul, 
cluster about them. 

4. Only in this way can he secure a clear idea of what parts 
of a hymn will serve his immediate purpose, which lines and 
phrases will enrich his discourses or bring his points to an 
incandescent glow, or which verses when sung will assure the 
definite effect he has in mind. There may well be occasions 
when he will want his people to sing, not the first verse of 
Whittier's tender hymn, "We may not climb the heavenly 
steeps," but the second, 

"But warm, sweet, tender, even yet 

A present help is He; 
And faith has still its Olivet, 
And love its Galilee," 

or the even more comforting third verse, 

"The healing of the seamless dress 

Is by our beds of pain; 
We touch him in life's throng and press, 
And we are whole again." 

Such a study in interpretation will greatly enhance the 
spiritual values of the hymns to the minister himself, enriching 
mind and heart. It will make it possible for him to interpret 
them to his people. To any person the hymn is what he 
understands it to mean, no more; its effect on him is in due 
proportion to the completeness of his interpretation of it. The 
minister, therefore, is in duty bound to supply each singer in 
his congregation with an accurate and complete understanding 
of the hymns that are sung. 

Making a Hymnal of His Own. The minister who has given 
his hymnal the study that has been suggested will wish to 
garner and organize the materials he has thus won. He will 
proceed to make a little hymnal of his own by selecting a 



given number of the hymns that appeal to him say one hun 
dredin his regular hymnal. This will constitute his inner 
hymnal to which from time to time he will make additions. 

These hymns will be marked in his own copy of the church 
hymnal, a wide margined one, or an interleaved one, if it can 
be secured. As he analyzes each one, finding the joints in its 
structure, he will indicate the results by lines of division with 
the proper captions. His dissection of the phrases will disclose 
more or less obscure allusions needing explanation, like 
"Siloam's pool," "Mt. Nebo's lonely height," "Gog and 
Magog," "Ebenezer" and many others that convey no meaning 
to the average mind. These should be underlined for ex 
planation. Some phrases are so suggestive, so packed with 
meaning, that their value eludes the ordinary singer for in 
stance, the second verse of MonseU's "My sins, my sins, my 
Saviour." These should be put in quotation marks to remind 
the preacher to unpack by spirited comment their wealth for 
the edification of his people. 

Numbers referring to his card index or commonplace book 
will bring to mind helpful facts about the hymn, or its writer, 
or illustrations that will quicken both mind and heart. En 
closing a verse or verses in brackets will mark those that can 
be omitted without wrecking the symmetrical progress of the 
thought. That will eliminate the usual thoughtless phrase, 
"We will omit the third verse." If there is a choice of tunes, 
the most practicable one can be indicated; or a tune better 
known to the congregation elsewhere in the hymnal may be 
suggested with its number. 

Verses to be read by the congregation, or to be sung by the 
choir or by a soloist, before being sung by the people may be 
starred. Changes of force, or speed, may be marked p . for 
soft singing, or /. for loud singing. A passage marked tit. 
will be retarded, or hurried if marked acceL A repeat sign, 
bis, after a verse will suggest that a verse may be profitably 
repeated. Scripture references will suggest passages that can 



be used to emphasize the sentiment o the hymn, such as 
Genesis 28: 10-13, for the hymn, "Nearer, my God, to Thee." 
M before a verse may mark it as a memory verse to be sung 
with closed hymnal. P may indicate that it is a prayer, to be 
sung before the long prayer. Dates connected with a hymn 
will show when it has been sung, and so prevent its unduly 
frequent repetition from mere force of habit. Every alert- 
minded minister will have methods and devices of his own 
that should be recorded in connection with the hymns so 

Such a hymnal, individual, practical, wealthy in resources, 
will be of incalculable value to the wide-awake, aggressive 
minister, rendering him independent of moods, of dull spirits, 
of disturbing environments. He needs but open his hymnal, 
a treasure house of practical suggestions, and his resources, 
immediately accessible and fully prepared, await his use. 

A personal hymnal like this will not be made in a day or a 
month. Week by week, as hymns are selected, they are fully 
investigated and studied and their points recorded in the 
preacher's copy. His skimming of newspapers and magazines, 
his daily experiences, his hearing of addresses and sermons, 
his reading of history and literature, no less than his study of 
hymnological literature, will pay heavy tribute to such a royal 

The books of hymnic material, pretty largely historical, are 
fairly numerous, and their help should not be despised, for 
they offer very useful illustrative matter. Robinson's Annota* 
tions upon Popular Hymns is not as up-to-date nor as scholarly 
exact as the later Duffield's English Hymns, or as Nutter and 
Tillett's Hymns and Hymn Writers of the Church, but is 
richer anecdotally and more suggestive of expository comment. 
Dr. Benson's still later Studies of Familiar Hymns, Series I 
and II, will be found very rich in practical material. The 
present writer's Practical Hymn Studies 6 offers help most min 
isters need. The matter found in these and other like collec- 



tions should be carefully sifted and recorded. A condensation 
of the selected items, particularly of the longer anecdotes, may 
be ample for all practical purposes. 

Is it necessary to suggest again that all this varied material 
should be well organized in a loose-leaf blank book small 
enough to be carried about or, better yet> in a rebound, inter 
leaved hymnal? 

In making such a thorough study of as many hymns as he 
has leisure to analyze, the minister is really editing a hymnal 
of his own, none the less his own that it is embedded in the 
larger collection. There are very few preachers who do not 
have such an inner hymnal made up of the hymns they are 
in the habit of using; the pity is that it is frequently so small, 
so poorly selected, so unsymmetrical, so dependent on an un 
responsive memory, and so lacking in the materials that would 
help to make the hymns effective. 

Memorizing Hymns. A large number of hymns should be 
committed to memory for his own mental enrichment and 
comfort. It will enlarge his devotional vocabulary, his power 
of expression of spiritual things nay more, increase the spon 
taneity and spirituality of his thinking and feeling, for memory 
lies nearer the springs of subconscious intuition and impulses 
than the printed word. A wealth of spiritual thought, of 
sanctified imagination, of vibrant religious feeling, of apt and 
expressive phrase and vocabulary, is provided by such a well- 
stocked memory. 

The subconscious mind will furnish the fitting quotation, 
whether he writes his sermon or speaks ex tempore. In un 
expected emergencies, when there is no time to leaf over the 
hymnal for a verse to be sung, the mind automatically supplies 
it. In personal work, in cheering the 'sick, in comforting those 
who mourn, in inspiring the lagging and discouraged ones, 
the apt quotation will be exceedingly effective. There are 
moments in a service, unexpected episodes of an emotional 
character, climaxes of feeling in a discourse, when a verse of a 



hymn sung by the congregation will exceed in impressiveness 
any oratorical outburst; if the minister can trust his memory, 
he can carry the faltering memories of his people and realize 
an effect otherwise impossible, not only not losing any mo 
mentum, as he would if it were necessary to refer to the 
hymnal, but indefinitely increasing it. The great hymns of 
the Church should be made a part of his mental furniture^ 
become a large share of his clerical working capital. He 
should not be satisfied to have less than a hundred hymns at 
his mental fingers' ends for efficient use at a moment's notice. 


But it is not enough to gather the materials and study the 
individual hymns. A magazine of blasting powder has im 
mense possibilities of power; but unless methods are invented 
for applying that power to desired ends, it is a liability and 
not an asset. Having learned all about hymns, the next study 
is how efficiently to use them, to organize the best methods 
of exploiting the social, mental, and spiritual values their 
singing offers. 

Using Hymns in Sermons. Few ministers utilize the possi 
bilities of apt Scripture quotations in their sermons; fewer 
still know how to draw on the treasures found in their 
hymnals to increase interest and intensify emotion. In many 
cases the very finest climax to a section of a sermon, or to the 
sermon itself, will be found in one or more verses of a hymn 
which brings the emotion of the theme to its high culmina 
tion. There is no lack of material; for the expression of every 
Christian doctrine that lends itself to lyric feeling there are 
intense and poignant phrases and lines steeped in transcendent 
emotion. Abstract truth has intellectual value of course, but 
has spiritual value only when transmuted into the gold of 
intense conviction in the heart of true believers. It is the 
genuine hymn that raises the temperature to the transmuting 
point, if properly introduced and emotionally used. 



Studying Responsiveness of the Congregation. The intelligent 
preacher will study his congregation and its capacities of song 
to determine what he can do. He will canvass their responsive 
ness to certain classes of hymns, solemn, cheerful, aggressive, 
meditative, emotional, didactic literary, popular. Their taste 
in the tunes to be used will need to be carefully considered. It 
would be folly to announce "When the Roll is Called up Yon 
der" in a congregation used to singing and enjoying Luther's 
"Ein' feste Burg ist unser Gott"; equally so to ask a congrega 
tion that enjoys singing "There's sunshine in my soul" to sing 
Iron's version of the "Dies Irae." 

A survey must needs be made of the musical resources and 
of the adaptability of musical helpers. In some cases such 
adaptability needs to be trained and developed. Their pliancy 
in rapidly taking up new methods, and executing unexpected 
plans of the preacher quickly, will require training. 
Studying Methods of Announcement and Securing Partici- 
fation. An important study will be how to announce and 
introduce the hymns in such a way as to awaken the interest 
and to win the sympathetic attention of the members of the 
congregation, and also how to help the people to sing with 
their minds and hearts, as well as with their vocal cords. 

The methods to be used in securing full participation in the 
singing, without losing sight of the deeper meaning of the 
hymn, will need to be formulated or borrowed from successful 
leaders of song. The problem is not met by merely urgent 
demands that everybody sing; they must all be moved upon 
to want to sing. Can it be done by illustrations, by moving 
anecdotes, by tender appeals bearing on the thought and feel 
ing of the hymn in hand? The kind of anecdotes and how 
they are to be used, before or during any given hymn, will 
call for careful discrimination. How shall the preacher ac 
quire the power of introducing a hymn in a very few well- 
chosen words, vibrant with the feeling the hymn expresses, 
striking the spiritual key connecting up the hymn with the 



religious purpose of the whole service? Year after year, by 
observation of other ministers and song leaders, by his reading, 
by experiments of his own, he will acquire a body of efficient 
methods with which to vitalize his song service. 
Studying Use of Hymnal for Specific Purposes. This will 
include methods of using hymns for specific purposes. Is his 
congregation indifferent with regard to some particular line 
of work that he wishes to present missions, for instance: 
what hymns, and methods of using them, will stimulate their 
minds and prepossess them for this as yet unappealing topic? 
Are they careless or irreverent in mood as they gather : can he 
sober their minds and awe their souls with a consciousness of 
God's actual presence with a solemn hymn and its impressive 
tune? How shall he use the singing of the hymns to affect 
and win the unsaved whom he plans to invite to accept Jesus 
Christ as Saviour and Master? In a thousand ways the 
intelligent and adroit minister can make his hymns count 
largely in accomplishing his beneficent purposes. 


One of the most important lines of study will be that of the 
tunes to which the hymns are to be sung. 7 To use a botanical 
figure, a hymn will not bear fruit unless it is pollenized by a 
vital tune. Who would be even aware of Cardinal Newman's 
"Lead, Kindly Light," if it were not for Dykes' tune? With 
out Lowry and Doane's music what recognition would the 
modest lyrics of Fanny Crosby have won? Wesley's "Hark, 
the herald angels sing" owes the wideness of its Christmas 
use to Mendelssohn's tune, Tennyson's "Sunset and Evening 
Star" and "Sweet and Low" were brought to wide public 
attention by Barnby's two settings. Without the wings of 
melody few hymns would get very far in place or time. A 
mediocre hymn with a good singable tune will do vastly more 
good than a great hymn with an impracticable one. 
Hence it is the minister's business to study the tunes. Not 



the notes, not the harmony: he can leave them to his musical 
experts, if he has them. He must study the singability of the 
tune, its appeal to his particular people, its adaptation to the 
sentiment of the hymn with which it is associated. Its age, 
its traditional or conventional use, its style, its composer, its 
elaboration of harmony all these are merely incidental. That 
it is singable, fitted to express and intensify the sentiment of 
the hymn, to give it access to the hearts of the congregation, 
to create the contagion of feeling in the assembly these are 
the essentials of a good tune. 

Just as the sales departments of our great manufacturing 
establishments make an intensive study of the psychology of 
salesmanship in all its phases, so the ministry of the church, 
in its schools of preparation and in its several organizations, 
should increase its efficiency as salesman of vital religion by a 
like study of the psychology of the hymn and of its use. 


-Chapter XX- 



WHILE our discussion attempts to consider every phase of the 
Christian hymn, its chief interest to us lies in it as a means 
to an end. It may be a work of literary art, the expression of 
a noble genius admirable in itself; it may be an interesting 
epitome of some noble doctrine that calls for appreciation of 
its lucidity and comprehensiveness; but for us its primary 
quality must be its adaptation to meet spiritual needs, in other 
words, its usefulness in religious work. In some way it must 
help in the work of the church, if it is to come within the 
sweep of our present horizon. 


There are two values in the singing of hymns that must needs 
be taken into consideration: one is the sheer ly musical or 
nervous value; the other is the message or burden of the 
hymn. The two must co-operate for the best results. 

There are two lines of application in using hymns: the one 
is the expression and further intensification of an existent 
religious feeling; the other, the creation of religious interest 
or emotion where none exists. The two types of hymns must 
be clearly distinguished, if proper and efficient use is to be 
made of them. 

The first type is worshipful, religiously emotional, based on 



personal experience, tenderly meditative. The second is 
didactic, inspirational, or hortatory. 


In selecting hymns for the opening of a religious meeting, the 
existing nervous and emotional condition o the congregation 
is an important factor. That condition may be due to an 
unlimited number of influences. Are they gathering under 
the open sky, in a tent, in a rough tabernacle, or amid churchly 
surroundings? What is the character and background of the 
assembled people? In a distinctly unreligious environment, 
the crowd will be disorganized, in a nervous flutter, in a 
secular state of mind, more consciously interested in securing 
a desirable seat than in the purpose of the meeting. The 
people need to be psychically organized as a unit, need to have 
their attention concentrated on the occasion of the meeting, 
need to be brought into a religious state of mind. There is 
nothing better than the singing of a hymn to secure these very 
essential results. The unifying effect of common action, the 
nervous calming of the music, the religious suggestiveness of 
the hymn itself, all will co-operate in creating the proper 
attitude of mind. 

What hymn shall we use to secure such a diversified result? 
Shall it be "My faith looks up to Thee/' or "O Love that wilt 
not let me go"? They are both superexcellent hymns, but 
they would be utterly out of place. They belong to the first 
type, the expression of existent religious feeling; but there is 
little or no such feeling under the proposed circumstances. 
The people are not in a state of mind to sing them sincerely 
and earnestly. It would lead to the all too common hypocrisy 
of indifference. 

Moreover, the tunes to these hymns are not of the organizing 
or stimulating type, fine as they are. They are tunes of ex- 



pression of existing feeling, -not of exhilaration or inspiration. 

For such a miscellaneous crowd as has been described, a 
much less emotional hymn with a somewhat livelier tune is 
called for, such as "Blow ye the trumpet, blow," "Come, we 
that love the Lord," or "Onward, Christian soldiers." In most 
cases a lively Gospel song, such as "Sunshine in my soul," 
"Rescue the perishing," or even, in extreme cases, "Brighten 
the corner where you are" is more effective. The problem is 
not so much that of making a religious impression, as of pre 
paring the people to receive a religious impression. To use 
tender, deeply emotional, profoundly spiritual hymns for such 
preliminary treatment is to flout psychology. 

If the congregation meets in a church or other distinctly 
sacred edifice, the religious associations will simplify the prob 
lem. In part, at least, the secular attitude will have given 
place to a hospitality of mind for religious ideas and impres 
sions. Under favorable circumstances the nervous strain will 
relax and religious susceptibilities will begin to function. 
These nervous and mental transformations of mood will be 
deepened by the organ prelude, if that has been wisely selected 
and effectively played. 

In some conservative, devout congregations where solemn 
earnestness is the prevailing mood, and the bowed head on 
entering the pew is not a mere convention, the usual Doxology 
may be used after the call to worship; but usually an introit, 
such as "The Lord is in His holy temple" or "Oh, come, let us 
worship," sung by the choir, will be the wiser preparation for 
the preacher's invocation. The "Gloria Patri" should prepare 
the congregation for some solemn hymn of profound worship, 
such as "My God, how wonderful Thou art," or "Lord of all 
being, throned afar," By the time this is sung, the members 
of the congregation should be united in sympathy and re 
sponsiveness to the worshipful exercises that follow. 

If the service is to be a joyous one, with an aggressive pur- 



pose, the hymns should still be strictly worshipful, but more 
animated. "Corne, sound His praise abroad," "Oh, worship the 
King, all-glorious above," or "Kingdoms and thrones to God 
belong" should be the unifying spiritualizing agency. 

But if the social instincts are allowed to find expression as 
the people gather, and more or less furtive conversation and 
even gossip are heard, or worse yet, if the Sunday school has 
overflowed into the auditorium or, for lack of separate room, 
has occupied it, and the going out of the school and the 
coming in of the congregation make a confusion that sub 
merges the hallowed associations of the place, a much more 
difficult problem is faced, and a more conscious effort must 
be made to prepare the people in mind and heart for the 
experience of the hour. 

The prelude must be calculated to cover disturbing sounds 
and to call the people to order an entirely different type of 
prelude from that used in the previous hypothetical situation. 
Once quiet and order are secured, the music may begin a 
quieter, more religious movement. But the high ecstasy of 
the Long Meter Doxology is out of the question. An earnest 
Call to Worship by the preacher, and a quiet sentence or 
jntroit by the choir, will hush the people's minds into sym 
pathy with the invocation, that may possibly be somewhat 
longer and more earnest, which in turn will prepare them for 
a sincere and thoughtful participation in the "Gloria Patri." 
The wise and observant preacher will have been able to antici 
pate their state of mind and decide whether they are ready to 
sing with sincerity "O day of rest and gladness," "Safely 
through another week," or the more elevated "Holy, holy, 
holy, Lord God Almighty," or "Before Jehovah's awful 

By the time this hymn is sung, the fate of the service has 
practically been settled. The people will have been won and 
are ready to go on to a deeper interest and to a fuller yielding 
of themselves to the influence of the service; or they are dull 



and unresponsive, even somnolent, with an unconscious re 
sentment that they have not been stirred and quickened. The 
failure of the service is assured, unless a miracle happens. 

If the minister is a slave to the conventional order of service, 
that miracle will not happen. He may be so complacent over 
the smooth unfolding of the wonted numbers as not to recog 
nize that the interest in the minds of his people has dropped. 

In such a situation the best means to redeem it is a hymn 
with a profound appeal. But it cannot function, if it is used 
in the ordinary, conventional way. If the minister is alert and 
senses the stupor that is shadowing the minds of his people, 
and if the success of his service is more important to him than 
the mechanical regularity of the usual order of events, he can 
bring the miracle to pass by the use of the next hymn in an 
unexpected, thrilling way. 

If the scheduled hymn does not lend itself to his purpose, 
he can exercise the audacity without which no public man 
can hope to succeed, by changing it to one that will, and by 
that act will storm the first defense of Morpheus, the god of 
sleep. Of course, he will always keep in mind practical con 
siderations of teamwork with his musical helpers, taking 
enough time in introducing the substituted hymn in an in 
teresting way to enable them to find it and decide to what 
tune it is to be sung. Usually that takes but a moment. 
Announcing the hymn, he will explain the message of the 
hymn in doctrine or in feeling, as a preliminary to its intelli 
gent and sympathetic singing; or he may make emotional 
comment, or relate a fitting anecdote that will grip the feel 
ings, leaving historical data for some other occasion; or he 
may ask the congregation to join him in silent prayer for 
divine guidance into the heart of the hymn to be sung; or he 
may ask his people to read the first verse in concert, in order 
that they may sing it with more intelligence; or if he has a 
sympathetic soloist, he can ask him or her to sing a verse, 
letting the people sing the rest of the hymn. 



If the people are submerged in Indifference and stupor, he 
may treat the whole hymn in like fashion, verse by verse, 
always careful to make his few words count^ for prolixity will 
defeat his purpose. He wiU be even more careful that there 
shall be a crescendo movement of increasing impressiveness 
and deepening feeling. 

Such a jolt to the passive attitude of an unresponsive people, 
genially administered in a confident manner, and with sincere 
feeling, will waken the most indifferent congregation and 
avert the impending defeat. It will make the frequent use 
of such unusual methods unnecessary by creating a latent ex 
pectation of the unexpected. 

Fortunate is the minister who has a native sensitiveness to 
the tides of feeling that ebb and flow in his congregation, to 
whom the faces and attitudes of his people are an open book. 
Most ministers must develop such a power by keen and per 
sistent observation and by intelligent experimentation. This 
psychical en rapport is very important to the minister. As well 
might an organist play without hearing his instrument as for a 
minister to be ignorant of the states of feeling of his congre 
gation. He is a blind man trying to paint a picture. 

Some ministers think themselves lacking in magnetism, in 
sensitiveness to outside influences, and make no effort to de 
velop their latent powers. This inferiority complex is wrong; 
the very sense of limitation is a proof that the capacity for it 
exists. It is too essential to the largest success that a man 
should not use every possible effort and method to develop it. 


Another practical use of the hymn that will prove very valu 
able is to make those hymns that are didactic or meditative 
the occasion of discussing for a few minutes the doctrines they 
express, and so to teach, to bring back to memory, or to vitalize 
the articles of their faith which average Christians are apt to 



forget. There are Christian beliefs that do not call for ela 
borate discussion in a sermon, that are best impressed by emo 
tional treatment in connection with a hymn. "Depth of 
mercy! can there be/' with a background of pure-minded 
Charles Wesley's consciousness of sin, will give an opportunity 
of impressing the people with sin's subtle and soul-destroying 
power. "There is a fountain filled with blood" will be the 
basis of a very short but a clear and tender exposition of the 
atonement made for sin by Christ on the cross. That a person 
may be conscious of salvation, of acceptance by God through 
Jesus Christ, will find fitting explanation in an exposition of 
"Rock of Ages, cleft for me." What better opportunity for 
emphasizing the Christian's dependence on Christ could be 
afforded than a study of "Jesus, Lover of my soul"? Our 
inability to understand the ways of God's providences, and our 
need of a faith that does not demand explanations, may well 
be stressed in an analysis of "God moves in a mysterious 
way." A score of such hymn discussions at irregular intervals 
during the year would prove illuminating, and help to remove 
the haze that prevents clear definition in the minds of the 
people of the doctrines on which their spiritual life must rest. 
Singing the hymn after such comments will make it more 
effective and fasten the Christian teachings in the minds of 
the hearers with links of steel. 


The versatile and adaptable preacher, full of resources, quick 
to take advantage of unusual methods, will find the Song 
Sermon, or rather the Hymn Sermon, a most attractive and 
impressive way- of using hymns. Instead of finding an appro 
priate proof text from the Scriptures for each leading point of 
the discourse, search out a hymn, or a single verse, expressing 
it in a lucid and emotional way and have it sung by the con 
gregation, by the choir, or by a soloist. Comment on the 
hymn and its illustration, consonant with the development 



of the general theme, will supply a new Hne of most Interesting 
materials. Care must be taken not to let the hymn hem the 
momentum of the sermon, but to make it add to the tide of 
interest. There will be no time for playing the tune or to find 
the hymn, while the preacher is silently waiting. Close con 
nection and sharp attack are absolutely essential Such a sei> 
mon will be sure to win a great hearing. 1 

A less formal use of hymns may be made in the Song (or 
Hymn)^ Service in which eight or ten hymns with historical, 
illustrative, and devotional comment are sung by soloists, choir, 
and congregation. Less valuable in formal teaching than the 
Hymn Sermon, it will probably win larger popular acceptance. 
Such a religious service should not be allowed to degenerate 
into merely a Sacred Concert. 


There are occasional disturbing and disorganizing occurrences 
during services a violent storm, a noisy epileptic, a fanatical 
intruder, a fire where a panic would be disastrous- when it is 
important to keep the disturbance down to a minimum, or 
even to control the congregation. The singing of an efficient 
hymn is often the solution of the problem when there is a 
leader of presence of mind (preferably the minister) who will 
promptly start it. It must be a hymn that everybody knows; 
it must not be a tender, experiential hymn, but one with a 
stirring spirit to a stimulating tune that everybody can sing, 
such as "Onward, Christian soldiers." 2 

Such occasions sometimes suggest fitting hymns that turn 
what might have been disaster into a spiritual victory. In 
such a case there must be a peculiar fitness to the difficulty, an 
adaptation to the form it takes. In case of a death, or paralytic 
stroke, the hymn will not be loud, but tender like "Rock of 
Ages/' "He Leadeth Me," or "The Sweet By and By/' Softly 
sung, the episode will be turned from a shock into a deep 
spiritual impression. 


-Chaffer XXL 



NEXT in importance to the minister *s selection o his text comes 
the selection of his hymns. If he has a clear conception of the 
real unity of his service, it will appear in this more than in 
anything else. 

Narrow Conception of Unity. If the minister is a narrow, 
mechanically-minded man, with a sense of the need of mere 
logical unity, he will make the subject of his sermon the gov 
erning consideration in all parts of his service. The hymns 
will needs be all or nearly all didactic, the type with the least 
emotional or inspiring value. 

The early hymns of the service will in an ineffective way 
anticipate the points of his discourse and, in so far as they have 
effectiveness, weaken by their more lucid and concise state 
ment the discussion in the sermon. As the congregation 
usually does not know what the topic of the discourse is to be, 
the pertinency of the selection is not evident. The same is 
true of the Scripture lesson, if it is read before the long prayer. 
Logically the whole basis of selection is absurd. 
Broader Conception of Unity. The sermon is simply a co 
ordinate part of divine service, not its governing feature to 
which all things else must be subordinated. The early hymns 
should not be selected with reference to the theme of the ser 
mon; the last hymn should sum up not so much the ideas 
of the sermon as its emotional values. 



Unify Based on Purpose. Among heathen people Instruction 
must be the leading purpose of any meeting held for their 
benefit; but among well-taught Christian people, the chief 
purpose should be worship, to which the sermon should be 
simply one of several aids. The hymns should be emotional, 
worshipful, and not exclusively didactic, and should harmonize 
with the sermon by being subordinated, with the sermon, to 
the clearly-conceived worshipful purpose of the entire service. 
Dr. Austin Phelps, more than three-fourths of a century ago, 
enunciated the right policy: "It aims at unity of worship, not 
by sameness of theme, but by resemblance of spirit. It would 
have a sermon preceded and followed, not necessarily by a 
hymn on the identical subject, but by a hymn on a kindred 
subject, pertaining to the same group of thought, lying in the 
same perspective, and enkindling the same class of emotions." 
To announce the theme of the coming sermon in the first 
hymn, to read a Scriptural passage as a basis for it, to grope 
around that theme in the prayer, to emphasize another phase 
in the second hyrnn, is a case of professional egotism so 
flagrant that its only shocking mitigation is that it is the 
accepted clerical estimate of the situation. 

Now every service, of whatever form or character, is prop 
erly intended to bring the soul into conscious relation with 
God. Every phase of the souPs activities is to be brought 
under the influence of this dominating purpose. As it cannot 
comprehend God in His completeness at any one moment, 
different attributes of His nature and the varied relation of 
these several attributes to manifold human needs furnish an 
endless abundance of worshipful themes. They will appeal 
to the understanding through the truth, to the heart through 
an emotional realization of that truth, and to the will by 
the choices offered to the soul's supreme tribunal Here, 
then, in this dearly-conceived phase of worshipful attitude, 
you find the basis for the logical unity of the service a living 
unity that moves heart and will as well as reason. 


There is In this no fetter to the intellectual activity of the 
preacher, but rather a fresh stimulus and source o suggestion. 
It brings to bear vital forces within the speaker's own soul 
that too often find little exercise, and changes the emotional 
elements of the service, the prayer, and the music now too 
often mere haphazard, characterless excrescences into defi 
nite sources of power for the realization of the desired spirit 
ual results. 

A preacher whose heart is a barometer of the spiritual condi 
tion of his people has no difficulty in finding subjects and 
texts for his sermons. If the needs of his people press upon 
him, those needs furnish an arc light that illuminates 
the Bible, and a suggestiveness that brings him an em 
barrassment of homiletical riches. Given a clear recognition 
of a definite immediate need and the consequent definite 
purpose, it will not only make sermonizing easy but will 
control the rest of the service. Not the theme of the ser 
mon, but the purpose of the service as a whole, will be the 
organizing vitality. 

Here is an earnest pastor who is impressed with the grow 
ing materialism, or worldliness, of his people. How shall he 
best dredge the stagnant shallows of their souls? He decides, 
not upon a single sermon, but upon a series of services with 
cumulative power, whose whole outlook shall be upon the 
Person and Character of God as the basis of his claims upon 
his creatures. There will be sermons upon these high themes 
of course, but they will call for noble and elevated co-ordinate 
co-operation in the rest of the service. Now these sermons 
should all be peculiarly worshipful, but that worship will be 
set to different keys. 

Hymns for Service on God's Omnipotence. The sermon on 
the Divine Omnipotence calls for a noble enthusiasm. The 
hymns should be majestic and joyful. After profoundly 


worshipful preliminary exercises it will not be wise to sing 
Watts' hymn, 

"Let all the earth their voices raise, 
To sing the great Jehovah's praise, 
And bless His holy name," 

to the tune "Ariel" for the first hymn in spite of its appro 
priateness of thought: first, because it is not sufficiently ele 
vated, and secondly, because the tune is too light. Watts* 
more majestic hymn, 

"Before Jehovah's awful throne, 
Ye nations bow with sacred joy," 

sung to "Old Hundredth," would be more harmonious with 
the general purpose of the service. By the time the second 
hymn is reached there must be some exhilaration of spirit 
It will not be desirable therefore to select 

"All people that on earth do dwell, 
Sing to the Lord with cheerful voice"; 

first, because it is in exactly the same key of feeling as the 
previous hymn; second, because for that reason no tune is 
quite so fitting to it as "Old Hundredth," which is already 
provided for; and third, because the presumable intensify 
ing of feeling by this time calls for a brighter text and more 
spirited music. But it must be a hymn of worship, none the 
less; we choose, therefore, 

"Oh, worship the King, all-glorious above; 
Oh, gratefully sing His power and His love/* 

the interrupted dactylic measure and triple time tune giving 
both dignity and movement. 

If the prelude was a joyfully majestic composition, the 
anthem one of elevated praise e.g., a "Venite" or a "Jubi 
late" the responsive reading and the choir responses reverent 
and worshipful, the long prayer of the preacher exalted with 



genuine adoration (forgetful of the routine catalogue of 
petty petitions), and die Scripture passage noble with inspiring 
truth, the service might close at this point as having already 
realized its prime object of worship. There must have been 
something radically wrong in the spirit and management of it, 
if the preacher does not find his people responsive and himself 
inspiringly attuned to his noble theme. At the close of his 
discourse on the Divine Omnipotence, his people will pre 
sumably be ready to sing 

"Let all on earth their voices raise, 
To sing the great* Jehovah's praise. 
And bless His holy name." 

to the exhilarating movement of the tune "Ariel." The or 
ganist's postlude will be characterized by a joyful solemnity, 
some strong maestoso movement. 

Hymns for Service on God's Love. A service devoted to the 
worship of God, as manifested in His love, offers a wider 
range of possibilities. Is it the love manifested in the atone 
ment? there may be the somber element of the crucifixion 
combined with its nobly elevated aspects; is it the love mani 
fested to His children? there will be a chastened ecstasy in the 
hymns and prayers; is it the love that consoles and comforts? 
there will be the tender and sympathetic development of the 
theme each will call for its own selection of hymns. As the 
last is perhaps the most difficult, let us see what program we 
should prepare for it. 

a. Tender Service. 

The organ prelude will be soft, sweet music, full of chro 
matic chords that melt one into the other, or a tender, emo 
tional melody with soft accompaniment. The usual opening 
doxology will give way to an introit, sung very gently by the 
choir, set to a text expressing divine sympathy or a prayer 
for help. The invocation will be a plea for God's manifest 
presence among His needy people. The first hymn sung by 
the congregation will sustain the feeling already established* 



"Lord, we come before Thee now, 
At Thy feet we humbly bow," 

sung to the tune "Aletta" or "Pleyel's Hymn." The responsive 
reading may be the forty-second and forty-third Psalms. The 
choir, having been advised in good time what was desired, 
sings some sympathetic setting of the twenty-third Psalm, or 
of the forty-second Psalm, or of the hymn "J ust as I am." If 
the t preacher has kept step in his heart with the emotional 
progress of his service, the long prayer will be an expression 
of the need of the people and of a tender appreciation of God's 
loving sympathy, closing with an ascription of praise to His 
limitless love. The people ought now to be ready to sing 

"Love divine, all loves excelling, 
Joy of heaven, to earth come down." 

After the discourse, a hymn in direct didactic relation to it 
may be sung in a bright and joyous spirit: 

"God is love; His mercy brightens 
All the path in which we rove." 

The postlude will be tenderly joyous and sympathetic in style. 

There are many preachers whose nervous organizations 
would not enable them to adjust themselves to so tender an 
emotional key in developing the service. On the other hand, 
many congregations would not follow it, but would be lulled 
to sleep by it. 

b. Joyful Service. 

They would be entirely right in selecting as the opening 
hymn one of general praise and worship: 

"Come, Thou Almighty King, 
Help us Thy name to sing, 
Help us to praise"; 

or even the quietly majestic hymn, 

"Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty! 
Early in the morning our song shall rise to Thee." 


The second hymn may be more prayerful and tender: 

"Guide me, O Thou great Jehovah, 
Pilgrim through this barren land," 


"When all Thy mercies, O my God, 
My rising soul surveys." 

The final hymn may be more didactic: 

"God is the refuge of His saints, 
When storms of sharp distress invade"; 

or the more stirring and forceful 

"Give to the winds thy fears; 
Hope, and be undismayed"; 

or that wonderful paean of faith in the divine love and provi 

"How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord, 
Is laid for your faith in His excellent word." 

In this case the postlude will be bright and joyous, preferably 
with some soft and tender episodical passages. 
Hymns for a Missionary Service. The preacher plans a mis 
sionary discourse: what is his order of service to be? 

That means an aggressive, spiritual program whose purpose 
is stimulation of enthusiasm, of courage, of conquering faith, 
of bold decision. 

The organist will be asked to play a bright prelude with 
pronounced but dignified rhythm, and striking harmonic 
progressions. The anthem by die choir may be based on some 
text of praise from the Psalms with stirring, somewhat 
rhythmical music that will stimulate the nerves of the people 
rather than soothe them. The responsive reading should be 
a Psalm of triumph, say the ninety-sixth. The long prayer for 
once may drop out of the omnibus conventionality and lead 



the people in magnifying the irresistible power and the con 
quering love o God, with enough reference to current sorrows 
in the congregation to serve as a contrast, to make the realiza 
tion of the strong right arm of God more vivid. 

The hymns should be in keeping with this joyous recog 
nition of God's invincibility and assured triumph. 

The first hymn may be Charles Wesley's "Oh, for a thousand 
tongues to sing." This is worship mingled with faith and 
with aggressive purpose, it is true, but nevertheless distinctly 

An equally appropriate selection from Charles Wesley 
would be "Ye servants of God, your Master proclaim." Care 
should be taken that the tune used for either is vigorous and 
well known. A dull tune for either would be a stumble on 
the threshold of the service. 

The point in the service has not yet been reached where a 
distinctly misionary hyrnn is called for; aggressiveness in the 
Lord's service is still the mood to be created. There would be 
a choice between ShurtleflPs vigorous "Lead on, O King 
Eternal," with its specific dedication of self to any forward 
movement of the Christian Church, or Baring-Gould's march 
ing hymn with its American tune written by an English 
composer, "Onward, Christian soldiers," which can hardly 
fail to stimulate the pulses of a presumably already stirred 
congregation, unless it is sung in a drawling, unaccented way. 

If by this time the congregation is not prepared to be 
thrilled by an unexpected missionary sermon, eloquent with 
an appeal hardly to be equaled by any other topic connected 
with the Church's activities, there has been something wrong 
with the preacher or his people. 

At the close of the sermon the hearts of the people will be 
glad to express themselves either in Smith's "The morning 
light is breaking," or in Watts' noble Christianized version 
of the seventy-second Psalm, "Jesus shall reign where'er the 
sun." For once the organist can pull out all his stops and 



play a brilliant but not flippant postlude without disturbing 
the mind and nerves of thoughtful and devout people. 

In these suggested programs it has been evident that the 
unity is one of feeling and not of logic. This gave room for 
the interest which the unexpected supplies. There must be 
progress of feeling as well as of thought. The long prayer or 
the music after it, be it organ or choir or hymn, should be 
the climax of emotion. It should be allowed to subside a 
little during the announcements and offering, in order to rise 
to a still higher climax in the sermon and closing hymn. 

In a tender, sympathetic service there is more danger of 
not taking the audience with you. If the music and the 
feelings suggested by the hymns are too quiet and depressing, 
there is danger of its acting as a lullaby, putting the people 
to sleep. Many a preacher wonders why some of his hearers 
are asleep before his text is fairly announced. In nine cases 
out of ten, it is due to the depressing character of the music 
used in the devotional part of the service. 


As has been incidentally suggested in the course of the il 
lustrative progress, no small importance is to be attached to 
the selection of the tunes to be used with the hymns. The 
preacher cannot always afford to trust the compiler of the 
hymnal which he uses. That learned gentleman does not 
know what tune the preacher's people can sing with a given 
hymn to the best advantage. He has to meet the difficulty of 
providing every hymn with an appropriate tune without hav 
ing well-known and effective tunes enough to go round; he 
cannot repeat them over and over, but must use less popu 
lar tunes. Who shall judge him harshly, therefore, if in this 
dilemma he occasionally follows his own personal taste rather 
than the vaguely conceived needs of miscellaneous congrega 
But the minister must study the tunes in his hymnal lest 



he limit his song service to the small number he happens to 
know well. To use a dozen or so tunes again and again will 
cut the nerve of musical interest in his musical helpers and 
in his congregation as well 

Hence, it is the minister's task to re-edit the hymnal in part, 
remating hymns and tunes in order to secure the greatest re 
sults with his own people. Nor need he suffer with a sense 
of presumption. The important consiSeration is the results of 
the singing of hymns in an effective way, not loyalty to his 
church hymnal at the expense of those results. 


-Chapter XXII- 



IT may seem quite superfluous to give any attention to the 
mere announcement of hymns; but in many cases the spirit 
ual success or failure of the congregational song is determined 
there. It is generally assumed that any one can announce a 
hymn and initiate its singing, but probably the least success 
ful work of ninety-nine out of a hundred ministers is their 
management of the service of song in their churches. The 
writer remembers one minister who would baldly announce 
the number and then turn round and stare at the choir and 
organist until they began to sing. The awkardness and help 
lessness of the man invariably produced a most unfortunate 
effect upon the congregation. Many ministers announce the 
number and read the first line. It makes no difference wheth 
er the first line is complete in meaning or not; they have iden 
tified the hymn. 

Like a great many others of their professional brethren, 
they used the hymn perfunctorily as a traditionally necessary 
part of the service, with which they really had little or noth 
ing to do; that it has any relation to the needs or the objects 
they have in view for the service does not occur to them. The 
unpardonableness of an aimless sermon need not be empha 
sized, but why should it be easier to forgive a preacher for 
aimlessly selecting and announcing hymns? 



Many churches have hymn boards and even bulletins, mak 
ing the mechanical interruption caused by the preacher's an 
nouncement of the numbers unnecessary. The people pre 
sumably have found the hymn by the time the tune is played 
through. 1 

Of course, if these devices for announcing the hymn are 
absent, the preacher must announce the number. If he does 
so in a listless, mechanical way, he will unconsciously give 
the congregation an unfortunate emotional keynote, and, in 
turn, it will sing in a listless, mechanical way. The psychical 
and emotional value of the singing of the hymn is already dis 
counted. If it has been announced in a joyous, or, at least, in 
an interested spirit, with only a happy phrase or two, giving a 
cue to the spirit in which it is to be sung, the congregation 
will respond in kind. Twenty seconds of effective introduc 
tion will make the difference between success and failure. 

It should be emphasized that a live preacher will not allow 
the regular order of service to prevent needed comment on the 
hymn as it is needed. The order of service has advantages, 
but if it robs the preacher of freedom and spontaneity, it be 
comes a curse. Too rigidly followed it makes for dullness and 
boredom. The congregation should not be allowed to feel 
that any departure from it is a doubtful liberty on the part of 
the preacher. Opportunity should be made to dispel any such 

If a hymn is curtly announced, or courteously suggested 
with a "please" or a "kindly" (as if to sing it were a special 
favor to the preacher), and if no hint is given as to the mes 
sage to be conveyed, or as to the feeling which is to be ex 
pressed, how can the minister hope that the merely improvised 
singing of an unexpected hymn, perhaps with an unknown 
tune, will have any stimulating, not to say spiritual, value? 
If the hymn is well known, it is probably a great hymn, and 
what gathering of saints can rise at a moment's notice to its 
spiritual altitude? 



What intelligent minister would presume suddenly to ask 
a trained elocutionist to read to his audience a poem he had 
never before seen? Or what honest lawyer would ask a 
client to sign a legal paper involving obligations without ex 
planations or previous reading? Yet, every Sunday, congre 
gations are asked to sing hymns they have never noticed, ex 
pressing they know not "what sentiments, promises, or con 
secrations, in the most solemn and exalted manner. Is it 
ethical? Is it efficient? 


I a congregation is to sing a hymn, not thoughtlessly and 
mechanically, but intelligently and with feeling, it must be 
prepared for the devout exercise. It is the minister's task to 
tune his people up for the individual hymn, and create the 
habit of finding meaning and genuine feeling in all the hymns 
they sing. Stupid singing is a habit: why not create a habit 
of singing thoughtfully and feelingly? 

That may be done; but it cannot be done overnight. It will 
call for persistent training, for a wealth of resources, and for 
an unbroken attitude of genuineness of emotion on the part of 
the preacher. It is no small undertaking to transform sleepy 
church members into sons of praise. 

We may add to the obligations involved still another. If 
the hymn to be sung is not merely didactic or meditative, but 
distinctly emotional in character, is it not the preacher's duty 
to create in those who are to sing at least the beginnings of 
the emotions he asks them to voice? 

A rapid sketch of blind Matheson's experience before writ 
ing "O Love that wilt not let me go" will set the heartstrings 
of the congregation quivering in the emotional key of the 
hymn. A vivid picture of the death of Christ on the cross 
in a dozen sentences will inspire a preacher's people to sing 
"Beneath the cross of Jesus" with genuine emotion. Drawing 
a picture with rapid touches of the charge of the Light Brig- 



ade as it went to its death at Balaklava, and quoting a few 
lines of Tennyson's poem, will stir die pulses for the singing of 
"Lead on, O King Eternal" "Prayer is the soul's sincere de 
sire" may be introduced by a few tender sentences on the vital 
necessity of prayer to a sincere Christian. A minute's resume 
of the influence of the cross of Christ on an individual life, 
or on the upward sweep of the human race under its influence, 
will give the people a clue to "In the cross of Christ I glory." 
The tender aspect of the atonement made by Christ for sin 
may be solemnly suggested before singing "Alas, and did my 
Saviour bleed?" 

Where a hymn has allusions not likely to be recognized by 
the average singer, they ought to be made plain. How many 
of the millions who have sung the well-known hymn, "Come, 
thou Fount of every blessing," knew what the word "Eben- 
ezer" signified? Striking phrases 5 packed with deep thought 
and feeling, like Matheson's 

"I lay in dust life's glory dead, 
And from the ground there blossoms red 
Life that shall endless be," 

should have their treasures brought to light, lest the average 
churchgoer should overlook them. In other words, there 
should be a rapid exposition of unusual and also of over- 
familiar hymns, so that the congregation may sing with its 
mind and heart. 

The range of possible comment is so wide, and the oppor 
tunity of using it is so limited, that only the most striking 
and impressive illustrations should be considered for actual 
use. Rhetorical and anecdotal illustrations should be used 
sparingly only when they promote an exalted and distinctly 
spiritual state of mind. They are apt to be prolix, to distract 
the mind from spiritual contemplation. They are permissible 
with joyous, aggressive, victorious hymns rather than with 
those that are tender, emotional, subjective. 



The inexorable limitations of time must always be borne in 
mind. When a hymn is announced the people expect to sing,, 
not to listen to a hymnological dissertation or to a long-winded 
anecdote. The simile or metaphor, or other oratorical com 
ment, must explode with a very short fuse of preliminary re 
mark. The anecdote must be compact, shorn of unessential 
preface or background, and reach its peak of interest, or of ap 
peal to feeling, with the succinctness of an epigram. Better 
limit the illustrations and comments to those that can grace 
fully and lucidly be uttered in one or rarely two minutes. 

Discussions and illustrations of hymns are often confined to 
the hymns as hymns, which is rarely necessary. It is not 
the hymn that needs emphasis, much less its writer: it is the 
message, the burden, the feeling of the hymn that is to be 
enforced. An instance of the saving of a "down and outer" 
from the Jerry McAuley mission in New York, or the Pacific 
Garden mission in Chicago, will create more responsiveness to 
"Rescue the Perishing" than biographical facts about Fanny 
Crosby or about the composer, W. Howard Doane. The 
anecdote of missionary success from the last missionary bulle 
tin or magazine will lead a congregation to sing "J esus shall 
reign where'er the sun" more enthusiastically than an ex 
planation of Watts' having metricized the seventy-second 
Psalm with a free hand, making the Jew, David, sing like a 
Christian. Illustrating the sense rather than the form of the 
hymn will be found very much more thrilling to the peo- 

p le - 

In evening services of song, or in midweek lectures, histori 
cal backgrounds will be very helpful and interesting. A series 
of lectures on the great hymns of the Church, or even a gen 
eral survey of the development of our Christian hymnody, will 
lay the foundations of a more intelligent song. 

In such services, anecdotal illustrations may have a large 
place. They need not be emotional under such circumstances, 
just so they add interest and understanding. 



As an occasional variation in the introduction of the hymn, 
why not have the congregation read it? "It is not done?" Ail 
the more reason for doing it! They will get more actual val 
ues out of the reading of the hymn and its subsequent singing 
than in any other way; the very unusualness of the method 
will give additional effectiveness. Single stanzas can be most 
impressively treated in this manner. In singing Isaac Watts' 
great hymn, "When I survey the wondrous cross," ask the peo 
ple to read the third verse softly, 

"See, from his head, his hands, his feet, 
Sorrow and love flow mingled down! 
Did e'er such love and sorrow meet, 
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?" 

and then sing it very softly and note the effect 

The same method may be used with Mrs. Alexander's chil 
dren's hymn, "There is a green hill far away," which adults 
have adopted for their own; have them read the kst verse, 

"Oh, dearly, dearly has He loved, 

And we must love Him too, 
And trust in His redeeming blood, 
And try His works to do," 

and then sing it quite emotionally. 

A great many people deprecate the minister's reading of 
the hymns. But that is because so few ministers are able to 
read hymns with any degree of impressiveness or reality. Per 
haps half the ministers who read diem leave no desirable im 
pression whatever as the result, for the reading has been with 
out even a thoughtful sense of the meaning of the hymn, 
much less of its emotional force. To allow one's voice to fall 
at the end of every line, or to make a habit of having a rising 
inflection at the end of each first line and a falling at the end 
of each second, without variation, is so vile, from an elocu 
tionary standpoint, that one cannot wonder that the general 
congregation prefers its omission. 



On the other hand, if the minister's mind and heart are 
profoundly awake to the thought and feeling of the hymn 
that is to be used, if the minister has a definite purpose which 
he wishes to realize through the singing of that hymn, if the 
whole song service is thoroughly vital and earnest, he cannot 
help reading the hymn in such a way as to impress and inter 
est his people. One need not be a well-trained elocutionist to 
do this. The genuine feeling will develop a natural elocution 
and will even neutralize faulty habits and mannerisms of read 
ing that would otherwise make it unendurable. 

The fact that the hymn is a familiar one may be only an 
additional reason for reading it, instead of being an imperative 
reason for omitting its reading. As coins long in circulation 
often lose their superscription, these familiar words often 
lose their meaning and reality by constant use, and these may 
be restored by intelligent and emotional reading. 

A mere habit of reading a hymn through is sheer mechan 
ism, the fatal enemy of interest. The situation, the purpose 
in view, the character of the service and the time allotted to 
it, even the preacher's own passing mood all are factors that 
need to be considered. 

At this point it is well to drop a word of warning against 
the unintelligent omission of verses. Some ministers invari 
ably restrict the number to be sung to three or four. If there 
are five verses, they invariably omit the fourth, or announce, 
"We will sing the first three verses," no matter what the de 
velopment of thought ipay be. One of the most painful mani 
festations of ministerial thoughtlessness and indifference to the 
congregation's share of the service, is this brutal mutilation of 
the hymns. The preacher wishes a little more time for his ser 
mon, so he robs God and his people of some of their worship 
by singing the pitiful remains of a hymn he has deprived of 
its unity, its progress of thought, and perhaps of its best stan 
zas. Or he has preached too long and closes with a single 
verse of some great hymn, unwittingly losing the best climax 



his sermon could have had. Because o the same egotism and 
his obsequious regard for the tyranny of the dinner hour, he 
cuts out the reading and proper introductions of his hymns 
throughout the service. 

The irony of the situation is that by this neglect of his 
hymns the preacher fails to create the enthusiasm and respon 
siveness of his hearers essential to the larger success of his 
sermon. "There is that withholdeth more than is meet, but it 
tendeth to poverty." (Prov. 11: 24.) 

It may well be that some of the ministers who read this 
practical section will throw up their hands at the idea of work 
ing out the rather daunting array of suggestions for exploit 
ing the hymn in their church work. The pastor's task is such 
a varied one, with such a mass of details, all of seeming im 
portance, that he is in danger of wasting time on compara 
tive trifles, of "puttering" around, feeling very busy while ac 
complishing little. A common remark at the close of the 
day is, "I've been busy as a nailer all day and can't see that 
I have accomplished anything!" 

It is this time that is lost by lack of concentration which 
could quite comfortably be devoted to hymnological studies. 
The difficulty in most cases is not lack of time, but lack of 
interest, lack of realization as to how great a contribution the 
hymn service can make to the success of his work. 

God has put into the throat of every member of this preach 
er's congregation a marvelous musical instrument with a wide 
range of tones and of extremely appealing cadences, of great 
power to express the emotions of the heart of the singer, and 
to suggest and stimulate the feelings of the minds and hearts 
of the hearers: is the minister justified in neglecting the op 
portunity it offers to arouse and quicken the mental and 
spiritual natures of the people for whose religious life he is 

Is it not a crying piece of egotism, in view of the proven ef 
ficiency of hymn singing, to depend exclusively on his own 



preaching for the realization of the spiritual ends to which his 
life is devoted? When ministers realize the positive power 
the hymn service can exert, they will not begrudge the occa 
sional hours for studying and planning it which are neces 
sary to its full success. That success will create 



Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter, Eccl. 12: 7. 

In traversing the long history of the human use of song in 
religious services, rites, and ceremonies, we have found that 

L The hymn has been recognized in every age, in every 
generation, by every race, whether savage or cultured, under 
every sky, as an expression of religious emotion, and as the 
generator of such emotion. 

2. Religious emotions are of various types. It may be the 
earnestness of strong conviction; it may be the hot indigna 
tion against sin and evil, against neglect of the soul's highest 
obligations. It may be the depressing sense of conscious un- 
worthiness, rising into repentance for sin, into the tenderness 
of grateful recognition of the divine love and forgiving grace, 
expressed in tears, joy over the assurance of salvation ex 
pressed in beaming countenance or in ejaculations of delight, 
or even in shouts of victory. The human heart becomes an 
Jiolian harp from which the winds of the Spirit of God evoke 
an infinitude of melodies, grave and solemn, tender and 
sweet, joyous and triumphant, or vigorous and inspiring, a 
very symphonic orchestra. 

3. As an expression of religious emotion the hymn has been 
effective in moving the human will, stubborn in its revolt 
against God, by intensifying the mental and spiritual power of 
religious ideas. 

4. The religious idea is primary, of course, but its emo 
tional response in the heart gives it vitality. It is the team of 



idea and Its normal emotion that exerts the power of the 
hymn. An abstract idea, abstract because its emotional re 
flex has been abstracted, has no motive power. 

5. In the effective use of the hymn the clear apprehension 
of its ideas must be enforced by the vital reproduction of the 
original emotion of its writer which urged its composure. A 
dry hymn written without vitalizing feeling has no power to 
inspire; it gives no sense of reality. Dry sermons, not pollin 
ated by emotional vigor, can bear no fruit. The effectiveness 
of sermon or hymn will be determined by the intensity of the 
feeling behind it. 

6. The emotional appeal must be genuine, both writer and 
singer must be sincere. Artificial emotion, the mere pretense 
of a feeling that does not exist, has no power. It is not mere 
ly unappealing, it is offensive. 

7. But emotion necessarily implies an intelligence and a 
susceptibility to be moved in other words, a personality. It 
also implies that one person's feelings can call forth like emo 
tions in other persons. The merely outward expression may 
even create a like emotion among others who do not fully 
apprehend the primary idea that set the original emotion to 
vibrating, creating a very contagion of feeling. 

8. It follows that in actual aggressive work, largely depend 
ing on emotional transmission, the minister' or the leader must 
supply the initiating impulse. If the minister has a dry mind 
there are ministers who desiccate every topic they discuss 
religious ideas suffer a blight of aridity, killing all sense of real 
ity, this sense of reality being the sine qua non of all spiritual 
effectiveness. If he is fortunate in having a vivid imagination 
and a heart responsive to religious truth, he can multiply his 
mental gifts twentyfold by intensifying the truths he expresses. 

9. Treated in this way, the hymn becomes the peer of the 
sermon in influencing power, and assures the minister eager 
for spiritual results a large harvest of souls, saved and spirit 




1 Genesis 4: 21, 23. 

2 Genesis 31: 27. 

3 Exodus 15: 1-21. 

4 Numbers 21: 16, 17. 

5 Psalm 90. 

6 Joshua 6: 16. 

7 Judges 5: 1-31. 

8 I Samuel 2: 1-16. 

9 I Samuel 10: 5. 

10 I Chronicles 9: 22; 11: 4, 5. 

11 Mark 14: 26. 

12 Acts 16: 25. 

13 Colossians 3: 16. 

14 James 5: 13. 

15 Revelation 5: 9; 7: 9-12; 11: 15-18; 14: 2, 3; 15: 3, 4; 19: 1-7. 


1 Dr. Phelps gctes on to say, "Yet the greatest of these, that grace which 
above all else vitalizes a true hymn, is that which makes it true its fidelity 
to the *ealities o religious experience.** ' 

2 "A hymn must have a beginning, middle, and end. There should be a 
manifest graduation in the thoughts, and their mutual dependence should be 
so perceptible that they could not be transposed without injuring the unity of 
the piece; every line carrying forward the connection, and every verse adding 
a well-proportioned limb to a symmetrical body. The reader should know 
when the strain is complete, and be satisfied, as at the close of an air in 
music." (James Montgomery.) 

3 Dr. Parks, back in 1857, remarks: "That is not always the best church 
song which sparkles most with rhetorical gems. There are spangled hymns 
which will never excite devotional feeling." 

4 Sung at President McKinley's funeral. 

5 Greece never had a sacred book, she never had any symbols, any sacer 
dotal caste organized for the preservation of dogmas. Her poets and her 
artists were her true theologians. (Renan, in Studies in Religious History.') 



6 "Even when deeds and events of an innocent and pure character are thus 
sung, there is nothing more of spiritual worship in it than in the recitation of 
an epic poem. The singer confesses no need, asks no blessing, reveals no 
yearning, expects no response. There is no communion of thought and feel 
ing, no aspiration for purity, no laying hold of moral strength." (Rev. G. O. 
Newport, a missionary in India, quoted in The Hymn Lover.} 


1 The instinct to use song in worship was recognized so long ago as 1695 
by Dr. Hickman: "There never was any land so barbarous, or any people so 
polite, but have always approached their gods with the solemnity of music 
and have expressed their devotions with a song." (Quoted by Dr. A. S. 
Hoyt in his Public Worship for Non-Liturgtcal Churches.) 

2 Our hymns spring out of religious experience at its best, and they tend 
to lift experience to its highest levels. The very cream of truth and of soul 
life is gathered into them. They contain the refined riches, the precious 
essences, the cut and polished jewels of Christianity in all ages. They are 
truly prophetic, the records of the insight and intuition and rapture of the 
seer and the saint." (Dr. Waldo S. Pratt, in Musical Ministries. [New York: 
Revell Co., 1915.] Used by permission,) 

3 Henry Ward Beecher placed a high value on the song service of the 
church: "I have never loved men under any circumstances as I have loved 
them while singing with them; never at any other time have I been so near 
heaven with you, as in those hours when our songs were wafted thitherward." 

4 "In all great religious movements the people have been inspired with a 
passion for singing. They have sung their creed: it seems the freest and most 
natural way of declaring their triumphant belief in great Christian truths, for 
gotten or denied in previous times of spiritual depression and now restored to 
their rightful place in the thought and life of the Church. Song has ex 
pressed and intensified their enthusiasm, their new faith, their new joy, their 
new determination to do the will of God." (DR. W. R. DALE.) 

5 Pratt, Musical Ministries. 

6 Ephesians 5: 18-20. 

7 Colossians 3: 16. 

8 I Corinthians 14: 15. 

9 Over three-quarters of a century ago, this lament was made by a promi 
nent New England minister: "Many a man, who carefully interrogates his own 
experience, will confess that, while the voice of public prayer readily engages 
his attention and carries with it his devout desires, it is not so with the act of 
praise; that he very seldom finds his affections rising upon its notes to 
heaven very seldom can he say at its close that he has worshiped God. The 
song has been wafted near him as a vehicle for conveying upward the sweet 
odor of a spiritual service, but the offering has been withheld, and the song 
ascends as empty of divine honors as a sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal," 
(Rev. Daniel L. Furber, in Hymns and Choirs.) 


1 "To get behind the hymnbook to the men and women who wrote its 
contents, and to the events, whether personal or public, out of which it 
sprang and which it so graciously mirrors, is to enter a world palpitating with 
human interest. For a hymnbook is a transcript of real life, a poetical accom 
paniment to real events and real experiences. Like all literature that counts, 



it rises directly out of life." (Frederick J. Gfflman, in The Evolution of the 
English Hymn. [New York: The Macmillan Co., 1927.] Used by permis 

2 J. Balcom Reeves, The Hymn in History and Literature. (New York- D. 
Appleton-Century Co., 1924). Used by permission. 

3 "There is an inclination to fence in what are called literary lyrics/ as if 
to fence out singing lyrics! Now there is, of course, a distinction between 
poems meant to be sung and poems written in the pattern of lyrical poetry, 
but never meant to be sung; but the terminology which classes one kind as 
literary, thereby implying that the other kind is not of the realm of literature, 
is inaccurate and unhappy. Ibid. 

4 "In his volume, The English Lyric, Professor Felix E. Schelling virtually 
disposes of the hymn with the remark that 'we may or may not "accept" 
certain hymns, but we do not have to read them. That is readily granted 
unless, of course, one wishes to know them or to write just criticism about 
them.'* Ibid. 

5 "Frequendy a hymn is a prayer; and it is a rule for the structure of 
prayers that they exclude all those recondite figures, dazzling comparisons, 
flashing metaphors, which, while grateful to certain minds of poetic ex 
citability, are offensive to more sober and staid natures, and are not congenial 
with the lowly spirit of a suppliant at the throne of grace. A simile may be 
shining, but it may not be exactly chaste; and a hymn prefers pure beauty 
to bedizening ornament." (Dr. Edwards A. Park, in Hymns and Choirs.) 

6 These numbers, of course, refer to the number of syllables in a line. 


1 The vagaries of credit for writing given hymns is illustrated in the ap 
pearance of the intensely Calvinistic Toplady's name as the writer of Charles 
Wesley's intensely Arminian "Blow ye the trumpet, blow." 

2 Those who care to make a fuller study of the revision of hymns than the 
following discussion affords are referred to the full treatment of the subject, 
and to the abundant cases cited, by Professor Edwards A. Park, D.D., of 
Andover Theological Seminary, in Hymns and Choirs, issued in 1860 by 
Drs. Austin Phelps, Edwards A. Park, and Daniel L. Furber. The lapse of 
years has in no way diminished the value of this volume. It is unfortunately 
out of print and inaccessible to the average pastor, outside of public libraries. 


1 "But the emotional life, strongest, no doubt, in youth, remains a lifelong 
element of personality and especially of the religious personality. Feeling is 
not merely an integral part of religious experience, it is central, vital, its in 
most core. William James speaks of it as the deeper source of religion, and 
says that 'philosophical and theological formulas come below it in importance. 
It is the dynamic factor in the religious life. When it is absent, religion de 
generates into mere formalism or barren intellectualism.* " (Gillman, in The 
Evolution of the English Hymn.) 

2 Rev. Louis F. Benson, D.D., in The Hymnody of the Christian Church. 
(New York: Harper and Bros., 1927.) Used by permission. 




1 Dr. Harris says of his discovery, "The manuscript had been lying with 
a heap of other stray leaves of manuscript on the shelves of my library without 
awakening any suspicion that it contained a lost hymnbook of the early 
Church of the apostolic times, or at the very latest of the sub-apostolic times." 


1 There is frequent lament that in the translations of Greek, Latin, and 
German hymns into English much of the original beauty is lost. But the 
converse is also true: that such translators as Neale, Brownlie, and Palmer have 
taken the uncut diamonds of the Greek and Latin Fathers and so transformed 
them by their lapidarian skill that the world-wide Christian Church is rejoicing 
in their beauty* . . . 

2 The Te Deum has only slight claims to Greek origin and is postponed to 

a later chapter. 

3 In like manner the rationalists of the age of Frederick the Great of 
Prussia sought to prevent the use of the Lutheran hymns; the Arians in the 
pre-Wesleyan times contended for the psalm versions without doxologies recog 
nizing the Trinity; in our own day, extreme Modernists belittle Christian 
hymns as dogmatic and unpoetical and urge the use of sociological hymns. 

4 This transfer of the song to clerical singers soon had its inevitable result. 
Jerome begins to be apprehensive that the form of singing would come to have 
too exclusive consideration. He complained that those who led the song, like 
comedians, "smoothed their throats with soft drinks in order to render their 
melodies more impressive, and that the heart alone can properly make melody 
to God. 


1 "The Greek language lived long and died slowly, and the Christian hymn 
writers wrote in its decadence." (Rev, John Brownlie, in his preface to 
Hymns of the Greek Church.) 

2 The canon is an elaborate service consisting of nine odes or hymns of 
different forms. 


1 "Jesus, the very thought of Thee" (Caswall) or "Jesus, Thou joy of lov 
ing hearts" (Palmer). 

2 "O sacred Head, now wounded," translated by James W. Alexander from 
Paul Gerhardt's "O Haupt voll Blut and Wunden," a German version of the 
Latin hymn above. 

3 Imagine a poem of such length in the difficult "Leonine hexameter" of 
which the following translated lines will give an inkling: 

"These are the latter times, these are not better times, let us stand waiting! 
Lo, how with awfulness, He, first in lawfulness, comes arbitrating." 

Dr. Neale wisely reduced his centos to a plain meter, giving them practical 

4 Matthew Arnold described it as "the utterance of all that is exquisite in 
the spirit of its century." (Quoted by Gillman, in his Evolution of the 
English Hymn.) 




1 As an indication of how prevalent this singing of religious hymns was, 
we note the fact that in 1512, twelve years before Luther's first hymnbook 
appeared, a collection of Roman Catholic hymns, set to profane tunes, was 
issued in Venice, Italy, 

2 "To Luther belongs the extraordinary merit of having given to the Ger 
man people in their own tongue the Bible, the Catechism, and the Hymnbook, 
so that God might speak directly to them in his Word, and that they might 
directly answer him in their songs." Dr. Philip SchafE adds elsewhere that 
Luther "is the father of the modern High German language and literature," 
and that these are the common possession of the Germanic tribes with their di 
versified dialects from the Adriatic to the Baltic Sea. Erasmus Alber, a con 
temporary who wrote twenty excellent hymns, calls Luther "the German 
Cicero, who not only reformed religion, but also the German language.** Hans 
Sachs, the poet cobbler of Nuremberg, who, besides a great deal of general 
poetry, also wrote a number of hymns, styled Luther "the nightingale of 

1 Dr. SchaflE. 


1 Dr. Louis F. Benson has well characterized this Psalter in its influence on 
French character: "The metrical Psalter made the Huguenot character. No 
doubt a character nourished on Old Testament ideals will lack the full 
symmetry of the Gospel. But the Huguenot was a warrior, first called to 
fight and sutler for his faith. And in singing psalms he found his confidence 
and strength. ... In the wars of religion, the Psalms in meter were the 
songs of camp and march, the war cry on the field, the swan song at the 
martyr's stake." 

2 "Of course, psalms in the ballad form were easily learned and kept in 
memory. And in the days when the ability to read was less general than 
now, these rhymes, scattered so freely broadcast, took root in many a mind 
and contributed powerfully to the righteousness and stability of the nation." 
(J. Balcom Reeves, in The Hymn in History and Literature.) 


1 Comparing the English church with the German, Horder exclaims: "The 
Puritans, indeed, had in their midst a finer poet than. Luther, but they never 
introduced even Milton's superb renderings of certain of the Psalms into their 
worship. What a us6 Luther would have put Milton to, if he had been a 
member of his church! What songs he would have written I Aye, what 
music, tool" 

2 "Thus the psalms have been at once an inspiration and a bondage: an 
inspiration in that they have kindled the fire which has produced the hymnody 
of the entire church; a Bondage, because, by stereotyping religious expression, 
they robbed the heart of the right to express in its own words the fears, the 
joys, the hopes that the Divine Spirit had kindled in their souls." (W. Garrett 
Horder, in The Hymn Lover.) m 

3 Thomas Wright in his recent Life of Isaac Watts remarks: "Earlier in this 



work I referred to Watts' enthusiasm for, and his indebtedness to, John Mason, 
who deserves rather than any other writer the name of the Father of the 
Modern Hymn. If there had not been a Mason there would never have 
been a Watts." 


1 It is perhaps needless to say that the word "vulgar" did not have the 
opprobrious connotation that it inevitably brings today. It simply meant 

2 George W, Garrett Horder, in The Hymn Lover. 


1 "It was their love of social psalmody that made Methodist hymnody what 
it was, and it was the desire to better parochial psalmody that furnished John 
Wesley with the original motive of his work in hymnody." (Dr. Louis F. 
Benson, in The English Hymn. [New York: Harper and Bros.] Used by 

2 "John Wesley was a good writer and preacher, and possessed extensive 
learning. He was a man of unfailing perseverance, great self-denial, large 
liberality, singular devotedness to his Master's service, and eminent piety. 
But perhaps his most remarkable gift was the power he possessed of making 
men willing to fall in with his purposes and of organizing systematic action 
for the benefit of his followers." (Josiah Miller, in Singers and Songs of the 

3 "Wesley, like Watts, wrote very freely and spontaneously, as the thou 
sands of lyrics he wrote bear witness. Not all of them were good; much of 
the verse reminds one of a painter's tentative sketches. But had he not 
freely written so many, he might not have written the smaller number so 
consummately well." (J. Balcom Reeves, in The Hymn in History and Litera 

4 "The Wesley hymnbooks constitute an extraordinary interesting human 
document, palpitating with real life. Every event of those wonderful years, 
every experience, public or private, through which the singers passed, is 
mirrored in some sweet song. But there is more in them than that. They 
are Pilgrim's Progress in verse. They trace the religious life of every man 
as he travels from the City of Destruction to the Celestial City. They unfold 
the spiritual drama of man, his hopes and fears, his aspirations and affections, 
his failures and victories; each chequered experience trembles into songs, and 
scarcely a note is missing. Springing from the heart of the eighteenth cen 
tury, their music seems to drown its licentiousness and frivolity in paeans of 
praise/' (Frederick J. Gillman, in The Evolution of the English Hymn.) 

5 Charles Wesley's best hymns and who would dare estimate his genius 
on any other basis? meet John Drinkwater's two tests of vital poetry: 

(1) It must spring from vital and 'intense personal experience. 

(2) It must transfer to the reader by "pregnant and living words" the 
ecstasy that swelled the heart of the poet. 

6 "The style of Watts is austere, objective, formal; the style of Wesley is 
warm, subjective, intimate." (J. Balcom Reeves, in The Hymn in History 
and Literature.) 

7 Dr. Benson in his exhaustive treatise on The English Hymn remarks: 
"The Wesleys inaugurated a great spiritual revival; and their hymns did as 
much as any human agency to kindle and replenish its fervor. . . . John 



Wesley led an ecclesiastical revolt and, failing to conquer his own church, 
established a new one of phenomenal proportions: the hymns prefigured the 
constitution o the new church and formed the manual of its spiritual 

8 He frankly expressed his inhospitable attitude: "Were we to encourage 
litde poets, we should soon be overrun." 


1 The Oxford or Tractarian Movement on the one hand sought a deeper 
spiritual life than was then prevalent, and on the other emphasized the 
solidarity of the Church of Christ before and after the Reformation. It 
recognized the authority of the pre-Reformation theology and of the asso 
ciated ceremonial liturgy. Many of its leaders entered the Roman Catholic 
Church, accepting even its worship of Mary, the mother of Jesus, and of the 


1 The condition of congregational singing at this time is reported by 
Rev. Thomas Walter as follows: "Our tunes are left to the mercy of every 
unskilful throat to chop and alter, to twist and change, according to their 
infinitely diverse and no less odd humors and fancies. I have myself paused 
twice in one note to take breath. No two men in the congregation quaver 
alike or together; it sounds in the ears of a good judge like five hundred 
tunes roared out at the same time with perpetual interferings with one 

2 It is related of a New England minister, Rev. T. Bellamy, that after the 
choir had outdone all its past discord and blundering in rendering the Psalm, 
he announced another and admonished his choir, "You must try again, for 
it is impossible to preach after such singing." 


1 Dr. S. Weir Mitchell. 

2 Dr. Louis R Benson says of Charles Wesley's "Jesus, lover of my soul": 
"The suspicion remains that the secret of its appeal lies in a poetic beauty that 
the average man feels without analyzing it, and in a perfection of craftsman 
ship that makes him want to sing it simply because it awakens the spirit of 
song in him, rather than a mood of reflection." 

3 The Wesleyan doctrine of the Second Work, or Holiness, now known as 
"The Victorious Life." 

4 It will be a good introduction to this minute study to work out the 
Biblical authority for the dozen or more allusions. 

5 Hebrews 12: 1. 

6 Fleming H. Revell Co. New York. 

7 A full discussion of hymn tunes will be found in Chapters X to XII of 
Music in Wor\ and Worship or in Chapters V to X in Practical Church Music, 
of which books the present writer is the author. Both published by Fleming 
H. Revell Co. New York. 


1 A fuller discussion of this topic will be found in Chapter XXIX of 
Music in Work and Worship, by the present writer. 



2 When Moody was superintendent of a Sunday school in Chicago, he had 
a vicious boy in one of the classes whom he had reprimanded again and 
again for disturbing the meeting. Finally one Sunday the boy was un 
usually fractious and Moody turned to his chorister and said, "When I get 
up and walk up the aisle, you start 'Hold the Fort' as vigorously as you 
can." While the song was being sung with much enthusiasm, Moody 
dragged the boy out of the class by the collar, took him to an adjacent 
room, and punished him drastically while the school sang and submerged 
the boy's cries. The boy grew up, became a minister, and often told with 
glee the story of how Moody started the work of grace in his heart. 


1 In regular services, single verse tunes may be played through, but only 
the last half of double verse tunes should be allowed, lest the momentum 
gained by the introductory comment be lost. 



Adam of St. Victor 123 

Addison, Joseph 167 

Adolphus, Gustavus 138 

Ainsworth's Version 155 

Alber, Erasmus 136 

Albigenses 128 

Aldhelm, Bishop 150 

Alexander, Mrs. Cecil Frances 206 

Alexander, William 153 

Alline, Harry 212 

Ambrose of Milan 120, 124 

American Hymnody, Begin 
nings of 208 

American Hymns, Early Col 
lections o 213 

American Psalmody 155-157 

American Recent Hymn Writ 
ers 222-225 

Anatolius 115 

Andrew of Crete 116 

Annesley, Rev. Samuel 181 

Annesley, Susanna 181 

Announcement of Hymns . 266-8 
Appelles, von Loewenstein . . 139 

Aquinas, Thomas 125 

Arndt, Ernst Moritz 144 

Arnold, Matthew 57, 58 

Austin, John 164 


Bacon, Dr. Leonard 218 

Bakewell, John 189 

Baring-Gould, Sabine 207 

Barnby, Joseph 207 

Barton, Bernard 203 

Barton, William 165 

Basil, Saint 50 

Baxter, Richard 163, 167 

Bay Psalm Book 156, 209 

Benedicite, The HI 

Benson, Louis F. 

7, 62, 65, 85, 133, 174, 225 

Bernard of Clairvaux 124 

Bernard of Cluny 125 

Beza, Theodore 150 

Bliss, P. P 51, 91,224 

Bonar, Horatius - 207 

Bourgeois 150 

Bowring, Sir John 204 

Bradbury, William B 51 

Brady, Nicholas 154 

Bromehead, Joseph 164 

Brooks, Bishop Phillips 

51, 222, 223 

Brown, Phoebe Hinsdale 214 

Brownlie, Rev. Dr. John 114 

Bryant, William Cullen ... .220 

Buchanan, George 143,- 147 

Byles, Mather 211 

Byrom, John 178 

Caedmon 158 

Calkin, J, Baptiste 219 

Calvin, John 148 

Campbell, Thomas 155 

Campion, Thomas 161 

Candlelight Hymn 110 



Canon, Golden 116 

Canon, Pentecostarion 116 

Canons, Queen of 116 

Canon, The Great 116 

Canon, Triodion 116 

Carlyle, Thomas 135 

Caswall, Edward 126, 204 

Celano, Thomas o 126 

Cennick, John 190 

Character of German Hym- 

nody 146 

Charlemagne 124 

Christian Lyre 215 

Christian Year 200 

Church Poetry 218 

Clement of Alexandria 109 

Coleman, Dr. Lyman 106 

Compendious Booke of Gudc 

and Godlie Ballates 150 

Concordant Discord of a 

Broken-Hearted Heart . . 164 

Conder, Josiah 204 

Cosin, Bishop 124 

Cosmas 116 

Cotterill, Thomas 202 

Coverdale, Miles 150 

Cowley, Robert 151 

Cowper, William, Life of, 196, 197 
Coxe, Bishop Arthur Cleveland 223 
Crosby, Fanny 51, 261 

Daraiana, Cardinal 123 

Da Todi, Jacopone 127 

Davies, Samuel 211 

Decius, Nicolaus 136 

De la Motte Fouque 144 

Dexter, Henry M 110 

Doane, Bishop George W. ... 219 

Doane, William H 51, 270 

Doddridge, Philip 233, 238 

Doddridge, Relative Standing . 178 

Duffield, George, Jr 222 

Dundee Psalms 150 

Dunster and Lyon 156 

D wight, Timothy (Pres.) 210 


Earliest English Hymns 158 

Eber, Paul, 136 

Edmeston, James 203 

Eliot, John 156 

Emergency Hymns 260 

English Literary Ideals Dis 
courage Hymn Writing. 159 

English Psalmody Submerges 

English Hymnody 159 

English Psalm Versions Before 

Sternhold 150 

Faber, Frederick W 206, 235 

Fawcett, John 60, 191 

Finney, Charles G 51, 214 

Fitting Hymn Tunes to Con 
gregations 249 

Flagellant Monks 131 

Fleming, Paul 139 

Francis of Assisi 126 

Francke, August Hermann , . 141 

Franck, John 140 

Franklin, Benjamin . . . .210 
Freylinghausen, Johann A. . . 141 

Fuller, Thomas 155 

Furber, Rev. Daniel L 7 

Gates, Ellen H 91 

Gellert, Christian Fuerchtegott 

139, 142 

Genevan Psalter 150 

Gerhardt, Paul 139 

German Te Deum 138 

Gerok, Karl von 146 

Ghoostly Psalms and Spiritual 

Songs 150 

Gill, Thomas Hornblower , . 58 

Gilman, Frederick J 155 

Gilmore, Joseph H 91, 224 

Gladden, Washington 51, 224 

Gloria in Excelsis Ill 

Gloria Patri 112 

Goethe 126 

Gospel Hymn, The 89 

Adaptation to Practical Work 


Advantages of 98 

Almost Universal Use 89 

Discrimination in Use of 
Gospel Songs Needed ... 98 

Judged by Results 90 

Lack of Discrimination of 

. Critics 91 

Precursors of 90 

Standard Hymns 92 



Unfair Comparisons .... 93 

Wrong Assumptions 92 

Goudimel 150 

Grant, Sir Robert . , 203, 230, 235 

Great Hymnic Themes 88 

Gregory o Nazianzus ...... 114 

Gregory the Great , 124 

Grigg, Joseph 192 


Hammond, William 235 

Hankey, Kate 91 

Hardenberg, Friedrich von . . 144 

Harris, Dr. Rendell 107 

Hastings, Thomas . . 91, 215, 216 
Havergal, Frances Ridley . . . 207 
Hawks, Mrs. Annie S. ... 91, 234 

Heath, George 75 

Heber, Bishop Reginald 

84, 199, 232 

Hedge, Frederick H 135 

Herbert, Geo 36, 162 

Hermamis Contractus 124 

Herrick, Robert 163 

Hewitt, Eliza Edmunds 91 

Hilary, Bishop of Poitiers 120, 130 

Hiller 141 

Holden, Oliver 213 

Holmes, Oliver Wendell .... 220 

Hopper, Rev. Edw 91, 224 

Horder, W. Garrett . . 25, 160, 166 
Hosmer, Rev. Frederick L. . . 224 

How, Bishop W. W 206 

Hoyt, Dr. A. S 96 

Hunter, Rev. William 91 

Huntingdon, Countess of .... 194 

Huss, John, of Prague 131 

Hyde, Abby B 214 

Hymnal as a Text Book of 

Theology 84-86 

Hymnal, Making a Personal 


Hymn Lover, The 25 

Hymnology, Works on 7-8 

Hymns 35 

Adjusted to Mass Singing . 74 
As a Pedagogic Device ... 74 

As Literature 53 

As Poetry 27 

Changes in 63-75 

Character of changes . . 67-72 
John Wesley as Reviser. 70-72 

Limits of author's rights 65 
Minor changes in hymns 73-75 

Often needless 64 

Return to originals ..... 65 
Rights of authors ... 65 

Christocentric 24 

Congregational or Singing 

Hymn 27 

Create Religious Atmosphere 72 

Definition of Hymn 25 

Definition of Hymn by Dr. 

Benson 28 

Distinctly Religious 30 

Earliest Hymns 110 

Early Greek Hymns 114 

Efficiency of Hymns ... 21 
Excessive "Ego" in Hymns 81 
Flaws in Hymns by Stand 
ard Writers 94 

Ignorance of Hymns .... 21 
Importance of Hymns . ... 17 
Impulse to Write Hymns 40 
In Apostolic Times . . . 104 
Indifference to Hymns , . . 50-52 
Influence of Purpose on 

Writing 40-43 

In the Epistles 105 

Limitations of 58 

Literary Criticism of 41, 55-57 
Means of Emotional Expres 
sion 43 

Meters of 33, 59-61 

Of the Apocalypse ... . . 106 

Of the Social Gospel 87 

Origin and Development of 

Apostolic Hymns 104 

Place of Hymns 17 

Practicability of 34 

Purpose of Singing Hymns 42 

Purpose of User 42 

Relation of Hymns to God 76-8 
Relation of Hymns to Sing 
er 79-82 

Scriptural, Must be 31 

Source of 103 

Special Subjects 87 

Succeeded Psalms 103 

Supreme Theme of 88 

Taken from Congregation 112 

Too Intense 245 

Use in Propaganda 112 

Valuable Aids in Services . 242 



Value of 40-46 

"Hymns Ancient and Modern" 54 
Hymn Sermons and Services . 254 
Hymns of the Protestant Epis 
copal Church 218 

Irons, Rev. W. J 126 


James I of England 153 

John of Damascus 116 

Johnson, Dr. Samuel 56 

Joseph of the Studium 117 

Jonas, Justus 136 

Keble, John ..199, 200, 232, 235 

Kelly, Thomas 201 

Ken, Bishop Thomas .... 72, 164 

Key, Francis S 219 

"King*' and "Queen" Chorales 137 

King Conrad 131 

Klopstock, Friedrich G 143 

Knapp, Albert 145 

Knox, John '. . 153 

Knox's Version 153 

Krummacher, Friedrich Adolph 145 

Language of Post-Apostolic 

Hymns Ill 

Later American Orthodox 

Hymnists 222 

Lathbury, Mary Artemisia ... 223 
Latin Psalm Version by Geo. 

Buchanan , 151 

Lavater, Johann Kasper 144 

Leavitt, Rev. Joshua 214 

Leland, John 213 

Literary Trend in English 

Hymns 198 

Lollards, The 50 

Lowry, Robert 51 

Luther and Calvin 148 

Luther and the Vernacular 

Hymn 130 

Luther, Martin 130 

Luther's Great Chorale 134 

Luther's Hymn Collections . . , 134 
Luther's Relation to German 

Hymnody 132 

Luther's Tunes 136 

Lyte, Henry Francis 204 


MacDonald, George 167, 178 

Madan, Rev. Martin . . . . 72, 194 

Marot, Clement 149 

Marriott, John 203 

Marseillaise Hymn 83 

Martineau, Dr. James 41, 187 

Mason, John 166 

Mason, Lowell ... .91, 215-217 

Mather, Cotton 157 

Mather, Richard 156 

Matheson, Dr. George . ... 208 
Medieval Popular Hymnody . 146 

Medley, Rev. Samuel 192, 235 

Memorizing Hymns 243 

Mendelssohn-Bartholdi, Felix . 138 

Methodist Hymnal 93 

Methods of Hymn Study .234-240 

Meyfart, Johannes 139 

Milfart, Henry Hart . .75, 199, 200 

Milton, John 160 

Montgomery, James 

56, 64, 155, 190, 201-2 
Montgomery, James, as Critic 202 

Moore, Thomas 200 

Moravians 181 

Morris, Mrs. C. H 224 

Mote, Edward 73 

Mozart, Wolfgang A 126 

Muhlenberg, Rev. William Au 
gustus 218 

Neale, Dr. Mason ..115, 125, 205 

Neumark, Georg 138 

Newman, Cardinal John Henry 

51, 204 
New Presbyterian Hymnal ... 93 

Newton and Cowper 195 

Newton, John, Life of 195 

Nicolai, Phtlipp 137 

North, Frank Mason 224 

Notker, called Balbulus , . 123, 124 

Occom, Samson 212 

Odes of Solomon 106 

Odo of Cluny 123 

Olivers, Thomas 189 



Olney Hymns (Newton) 195 

Omitting Verses 272 

Onderdonk, Dr. H. U 219 

Opitz, Martin 138 

Rons, Francis . .... 153 

Rous* Version 153 

Rueckert, Friedrich 145 

Palgrave 56, 175 

Palmer, Ray 91, 217-18, 233 

Parker, Archbishop 154 

Parker, Theodore 126 

Parks, Prof. Edwards A 7 

Patrick, Saint 159 

Paul o Samosata 112 

Paulus Diaconus 123 

Perronet, Edward 189 

Personal Hymnal 240-2 

Peter the Hermit 125 

Phelps, Prof. Austin. .7, 88, 95, 257 
Phelps, Dr. Sylvanus Dryden 224 

Phillips, Philip 51 

Pietism in German Hymnody 144 
Planning Music of Service. .250-53 
Popularity of Sternhold and 

Hopkins Version 152 

Poteat, Prof. H. M 21 

Practical Hymnology 21 

Practical Hymn Studies . . . 242 

Prentiss, Mrs. Elizabeth 224 

Preparing a Congregation to 

Sing Hymns 268-72 

Priest, Francis Baker 164 

Primitive Church, The 106 

Procter, Adelaide A 231 

Proses 123 

Protestant Te Deum 74 

Prudentius, Bishop of Poitiers 112 

Psalmody in America 209 

Psychology of Psalmody 148-9 

Rabanus, Maurus 123 

Rankin, Rev. Jeremiah E.. . 91, 224 
Rationalism in German Hymn 
ody 143 

Reeves, Prof. J. Bascom 159 

Revised Presbyterian Hymnal. 179 

Ringwaldt, Bartholomaeus . , . 137 

Rinkart, Martin 138 

Robinson, Robert 191, 235 

Rodigast 141 

R,oh Johann 136 

Root, George F. 51 

Saint Basil 50 

Saint Colombo .... 159 

Saint Patrick . . . 159 

Sanctus 28 

Schade 141 

Schaff, Dr. Philip , . . 134, 143 

Scheffler, John 140 

Schultz Hi 

Scott, Sir Walter " .'. 127 

Seagrave, Robert ... .178 
Sears, Edmund Hamilton . 221 

Selborne, Lord 134 

Selnecker, Nicolaus 137 

Senfl, Ludwig 136 

Shurtieff, Ernest W 224 

Smith, Samuel F 91, 216 

Solomon's Coronation Song 176 

Southwell, Robert 160 

Spafford, Horatio G 91 

Spener, Philipp Jacob 140 

Spengler, Lazarus 136 

Speratus, Paul 134, 136 

Spirituals 55 

Spiritual Songs for Social Wor 
ship 216-17 

Spitta, Karl Johann Philipp . 145 

Steele, Anne 125, 191 

Stephen, the Sabaite 116 

Sternhold and Hopkins Ver 
sions 152 

Sternhold, Thomas 152 

Stite, Edgar F 91 

Stone, Samuel J 84 

Stowe, Harriet Beecher . .222, 230 

Strong, Nathan 212 

Studying Hymn Tunes .246, 264 
Studying Methods of Using 

Hymns 244-47, 249 

Study of Hymns, Advantages 

of 229-33 

Suggestive Selection of Hymns 

Synesius 115 

Tappan, William B 214 

Tate and Brady's Version ... 154 



Tate, Nahum 154, 209 

Tauler, John 131 

Teaching Truth by Use of 

Hymns 253 

Technic of Hymnwriting Es 
tablished 165 

Te Deum Laudamus . . . 28, 119 

Ter Sanctus, The Ill 

Tersteegen, Gerhardt ... 141, 235 

Tertullian .109 

Theodore of the Studium ... 117 

Theodulph 123 

Thomas of Celano 126 

Thompson, Alexander R. ... 126 
Toplady, Augustus Montague 190 
Toplady's Hymn Tests . . . . 194 
Treasury of Sacred Songs .... 56 
Trench, Archbishop . 55, 124 

Trent, Archbishop 125 

Troubadours 128 

Two Values in Singing Hymns 248 

Types of Hymns 76-88 

"I" and "My" hymns .... 81 
In Relation to God . . . . 76-9 
In Relation to Singer 79 


Unitarian Hymnody in America 219 
Unity in Selecting Hymns ... 256 

Valois, Marguerite de 149 

Value of Psalm Versions .... 157 
Van Alstyne, Frances Crosby . 223 
Van Dyke, Dr. Henry . . .235 
Venerable Bede, The 123, 159 
Verse, Secular and Sacred 

Compared 56 


Waldenses 128 

Walford, H. W 91 

Walther, Johann 136 

Ware, Henry, Jr 220 

Warner, Anna 223 

Waters, Horace 215 

Watts and Charles Wesley . 185 
Watts, Isaac . 41, 62, 169, 235 238 
Watts* Argument for Hymns 172-4 

Watts' First Hymn 169 

Watts' Horae Lyricae . . . 170 
Watts' Hymns in America 210 

Watts' Hymns, Value of 175 

Watts, Life of . . . . 168 
Watts, Stress on Practicability 174 
Wedderburn Brothers . . . . 150 

Weiss, Michael 136 

Welde, Thomas 156 

Wesley Brothers, Relation of . 182 
Wesley, Charles 

62, 88, 183, 235, 238, 254 
Wesley, Charles, as a preacher 184 
Wesley, Charles, Life of . . 183 
Wesley Family, The , . . . 181 
Wesley Hymns, Issues of . .186 

Wesley, John 64, 181, 182 

Wesley, John, American Collec 
tion .182 

Wesley, John, Changes in 

Watts' Hymns 70-2 

Wesley, John, Character of . . 183 

Wesley, John, Life of 181 

Wesley, Samuel 181 

Wesleys and the Moravians, 

The . v- 181 

Wesleys, Opposition to ... 187 
Wesleys, Theology of ... .188 
White, Henry Kirke 198, 203 

Whitfieid, George 210 

Whittier, John G 222 

Williams, William 189 

Winkforth, Catherine . . . . . 138 

Withers, George 161 

Wordsworth, Bishop Christo 
pher 38, 84 

Zinzendorf, Count Nicholaus 

Ludwig von 182 

Zwingli, Ulnch 148 



(First lines, except those in parenthesis which arc first lines of other than 
first verse, or of first lines of translations,) 

A charge to keep I have ... .62, 83 

A few more years shall roll , . 208 

(A mighty fortress is our God) 

134, 239 

Abide with me; fast falls the 

eventide 204, 223 

Ah, dearest Jesus, I have grown 36 

Alas, and did my Savior bleed 

69, 81, 116, 269 

All hail the pow'r of Jesus* 
name 60, 74, 189,234 

All people that on earth do 

dwell 153, 259 

(All praise to Thee, eternal 
Lord) 135 

Almost persuaded, now to be 
lieve 91 

Amazing grace, how sweet the 
sound 48, 196 

Amazing sight, the Savior 
stands 212 

(And when our days are past) 213 

Angels from the realms of 
glory 202 

Approach, my soul, the mercy 

seat 196 

Art thou weary, art thou lan 
guid 117, 206 

As pants the hart for cooling 
streams 155, 204 

Awake and sing the song . . . 235 

Awake, my soul, in joyful 
lays 192 

Awake, my soul, stretch every 
nerve 60, 179, 238 


Be faithful unto death 90 

Befiehl du deine Wege 140 

Before Jehovah's awful throne 

59, 70, 175, 186, 235, 251, 


Behold, a Stranger at the door 192 
Behold the glories of the 

Lamb 170 

Behold the Savior of mankind 181 
Beneath the cross of Jesus . . 268 
Beyond the smiling and the 

weeping 208 

Blest be the tie that binds ... 191 
Blest be Thy love, dear Lord. . 164 
Blow ye the trumpet, blow 63> 251 
Bread of the world, in mercy 

broken 199 

Break Thou the bread of life. 223 
Brief life is here our portion 

125, 206 
Brighten the corner where you 

are 30, 97,251 

Brightest and best of the sons 

of the morning . . . 199, 232 
(But warm, sweet, tender, even 

yet) 222 

By cool Siloam's shady rill . . 199 


Calm on the listening ear of 
night 222 



Child of sin and sorrow 215 

Children of the heavenly King 190 
Christ is born, exalt His name 116 
Christian, dost thou see them. 206 
Christians, awake, salute the 

happy morn 178 

Come, gracious Spirit, heavenly 

Dove 178 

Come, Holy Ghost, in love . . 218 
Come, Holy Spirit, come . . . . 60 
Come, Jesus, Redeemer, abide 

Thou with me 218 

Come, my soul, thy suit pre 
pare * 196 

Come, oh, come, in pious lays 161 
Come, sound His praise abroad 251 
Come, Thou Almighty King 

61, 68, 261 
Come, Thou Fount of every 

blessing . . 192, 235, 239, 269 
Come, we that love the Lord. 251 
Come, ye disconsolate, where 
'er ye languish 200, 211 

Crown Him with many crowns 60 


Day is dying in the West .... 223 
Day of wrath! O day of 

mourning 127 

(Dear Christian people, now 

rejoice) 135 

Dear Savior, if these lambs 

should stray 217 

Deathless principle, arise .... 190 
Delay not, delay not, O sinner, 

draw near 216 

Depth of mercy, can there be 

186, 254 


Ein* festc Burg ist unser Gott 

134, 136, 138, 150, 245 
Erne Herde und ein Hirt . . v 145 
Es ist gcwisslich an dcr Zeit 137 
Es kennt der Herr die Seinen. 145 

Fade, fade, each earthly joy. . 61 
Fairest Lord Jesus, Ruler of 

all nature .. 235 

Faith of our fathers, living soli 206 
Father of mercies, in Thy word 191 

Father, whate'er of early bliss 

60, 191 
(Fear not, O little flock, the 

foe) 138 

Fierce was the wild billow 115, 206 
Fling out the banner; let it 

float 219 

For thee, O dear, dear country 125 

Forever with the Lord 202 

Forward! singing glory 225 

From all that dwell below the 

skies 59 

From Greenland's icy moun 
tains 199, 216 

(From heaven above to earth 
I come) 135 

Gently, Lord, oh, gently lead 
us 215 

Gelobet seist du, Jesu Christ. 135-6 

Give to the winds thy fears 

140, 262 

Glorious things of thec are 
spoken 48, 196 

Go, labor on, spend and be 

spent 208 

God be with you till we meet 
again 91 

(God calling yet; shall I not 

hear?) 141 

God is love; his mercy bright 
ens 204, 261 

God is the refuge of His saints 

59, 262 

God moves in a mysterious way 

48, 196, 254 

Gott ist gegenwaertig! lasset 

uns anbeten , 141 

Gott rufet noch, sollt* ich nicht 

endlich hoeren? 141 

Grace, 'tis a charming sound . . 179 

Great God, how infinite Thou 
art 186 

(Great God, what do I see and 
hear) 137 

Guide me, O Thou great Jeho 
vah 190, 262 


Hail, glad'ning light, of His 

pure glory poured 110 



Hail, Thou once despised Jesus 189 
Hail to the brightness of Zion's 

glad morning 215 

Hail to the Lord's Anointed , 202 
Hark, hark, my soul, angelic 

strains are swelling 206 

Hark, my soul, it is the Lord 197 
Hark, ten thousand harps and 

voices 201 

Hark, the herald angels sing 72, 246 
Hark, the song of jubilee ... 202 

Harre des Herrn 90 

He dies, the Friend of sinners 

dies 67 

(He knoweth all His people) 145 
He leadeth me, O blessed 

thought 91, 224, 255 

He sings and plays the songs 

which best thou lovest 162 
Holy, holy, holy, Lord God 

Almighty . 84, 199, 251, 261 
How are Thy servants blest, 

O Lord 167 

How firm a foundation, ye 

saints o the Lord 262 

How gentle God's commands 179 
How precious is the book di 
vine 191 

How sweet the name of Jesus 

sounds 48, 196, 236, 238 

Hush, my babe, lie still and 

slumber 172 

I am Thine, O Lord, I have 

heard Thy voice 223 

I could not do without Thee . . 207 
I gave my life for Thee ... 207 
I heard the voice of Jesus say 208 

I hunger and I thirst 61 

(I know in whom I put my 

trust) 145 

(I know no life divided) . . 145 
I know that rny Redeemer lives 

(Medley) 192 

I know that my Redeemer lives 

(Wesley) 186 

I lay my sins on Jesus 208 

I love Thee so; I know not 

how .....35,82 

I love Thy kingdom, Lord , . 211 
I love to steal awhile away . . 214 

I love to tell the story 91 

I need Thee every hour . .91, 236 
I praise Him most, I love Him 

best 160 

! sing th* almighty pow'r o 

God 60 

I was a wand'ring sheep . 35, 208 
I will sing you a song of that 

beautiful land 91 

I would not live alway; I ask 

not to stay 219 

I'll praise my Maker while I've 

breath 186 

Ich weiss, an wen ich glaube . 145 
If thou but suffer God to guide 

thee 139 

In the Christian's home in 

glory 91 

In the cross of Christ I glory 

204, 269 
In the hour of my distress . . . 163 

In the hour of trial 202 

It came upon the midnight 

dear 222 

It is well with my soul . . . . 91 


Jedes Herz will etwas lieben. . 141 
Jerusalem, my happy home . . 164 
Jerusalem the golden, with 

milk and honey blest 125, 206 
Jesu, dulcedo cordium . ... 218 
Jesu, dulcis mernoria. , . . , 125, 218 
Jesus, name all names above . 117 
Jesus, and shall it ever be ... 192 
Jesus calls us, o'er the tumult. 206 
Jesus, I love Thy charming 

name 233 

Jesus, I my cross have taken. . 204 
Jesus, keep me near the cross 223 
Jesus, lebt, mit ihm auch ich . . 142 
Jesus, let thy pitying eye .... 73 
(Jesus lives, no longer now) . . 142 
Jesus, Lover of my soul 

38, 63, 64, 186, 239, 254 
Jesus loves me, this I know . . 223 
Jesus, my all, to heaven is gone 190 

Jesus, Savior, pilot me 91, 224 

Jesus shall reign where'er the 

sun 59, 176, 186, 263 

Jesus, the very thought o Thee 

43, 60, 205, 218, 233, 239 



Jesus, these eyes have never 

seen 217, 233, 236 

Jesus, Thou joy of loving hearts 218 
Jesus, where'er Thy people 

meet 73, 197 

(Jesus, Thy boundless love to 

me) HO 

Joyful, joyful, we adore Thee 235 
Joy to the world, the Lord is 

come 73 

Kingdoms and thrones to God 

belong 251 

Lamp of our feet, whereby we 

trace 203 

Lead, kindly Light, amid the 
encircling gloom 

34, 51, 205, 246 

Lead on, O King eternal 

224, 263, 269 

Let all the earth their voices 

raise 259, 260 

Let our choir new anthems 

raise 117 

Lift your glad voices in tri 
umph on high 220 

Lo! God is here, let us adore 

78, 141, 235 

Lo! He comes with clouds de 
scending . . 190 

Lo! in the clouds of heaven 

appears 220 

Lobe den Herren, den Maechti- 

gen Koenig der Ehren . . 142 

Look, ye saints, the sight is 
glorious 201 

Lord, dismiss us with Thy 
blessing 191 

Lord, I am Thine, entirely 

Thine 24 

Lord, it belongs not to my care 1 64 

Lord Jesus, think on me .... 115 

Lord of all being, throned afar 

59, 221, 250 

Lord, speak to me, that I may 

speak 207 

Lord, we come before Thee 
now 261 

Lord, with glowing heart I'd 

praise Thee ..218 

Love divine, all loves excelling 

186, 238, 261 


Mag auch die Liebe weinen . . 145 
Mighty God, while angels bless 

Thee 191, 235 

More about Jesus would I know 91 
More love to Thee, O Christ 

61, 224 

Mortals awake, with angels join 192 
My country, 'tis of thee . . 61, 216 
My faith looks up to Thee 

43, 61, 91, 213, 236, 249 
(My feet are worn and weary) 35 
My God, how wonderful Thou 

art 206, 235, 250 

My God, I love Thee, not be 
cause 205, 236 

My God, I thank Thee, who 

hast made 231 

My God, my God, to Thee I 

cry 184 

My God, the spring of all my 

joys 38 

My gracious Lord, I own Thy 

right 179 

My hope is built on nothing 

less 74 

My Jesus, as Thou wilt 60 

My Jesus, I love Thee, I know 

Thou art mine 246 

My soul, be on thy guard . . 60, 75 
My spirit longeth for Thee, 61, 178 

Nearer, my God, to Thee 

61, 224, 242 

Never weather-beaten sail ... 161 
(Not all the blood of beasts) . . 238 
Now from the altar of my 

heart 166 

Now I resolve with all my 

heart 191 

Now must we hymn the Master 

of heaven 158 

Now, my tongue, the mystery 

telling 126 

(Now thank we all our God) 138 

Now the day is over 207 

Nun danket alle Gott 138 



Nun freuet euch, lieb Christen 

G'mein 135 

O Christ, the Lord of heaven, 

to Thee 218 

O day of rest and gladness 

38, 84, 251 
O God, beneath Thy guiding 

hand 218 

O happy band of pilgrims ... 117 
O happy day that fixed my 

choice 179 

(O happy home, where Thou 

art loved the dearest) . . 145 
O Haupt voll Blut und Wun- 

den HO 

O Jesu Christ, mein schoenstes 

Licht 140 

O Jesu, meine Sonne 145 

O Jesus, our chief cornerstone 59 
O Jesus, sweet the tears I shed 218 
O Jesus, Thou art standing . 207 
O little town of Bethlehem 

51, 68, 223 
O love divine, how sweet Thou 

art 235 

O Love divine, that stooped to 

share 221 

O Love! how deep, how broad, 

how high 59 

O Love that wilt not let me 

go.. 34, 80, 97, 208, 249, 268 

O lux, beata Trinitas . 134 

O Master, let me walk with 

Thee . 51, 224 

(O Morning Star, how fair and 

bright) 137 

O most blessed Light divine . . 124 
O mother dear, Jerusalem ... 164 
O name, all other names above 224 
(O name than every name 

more dear) 144 

O Paradise, O Paradise 206 

(O sacred head now wounded) 140 
O Savior, precious Savior .... 235 
O selig Haus, wo man dich 

aufgenommen 145 

O splendor of the Father's face 121 
O sussester der Namen all ... 144 
O Thou who driest the mourn 
er's tear 200 

O treuer Heiland, Jesu Christ 145 

O Word of God, incarnate . 207 
O Word of truth! in devious 

paths 114 

O'er the gloomy hills of dark 
ness 190 

Oft in danger, oft in woe ... 203 
Oh, could I speak the match 
less worth . . . 79, 192, 235 
Oh, for a closer walk with God 196 
Oh, for a thousand tongues to 

siflg 68, 235, 263 

Oh, help us, Lord, each hour 

of need 200 

Oh, where are kings and em 
pires now 223 

Oh, where shall rest be found 202 
Oh, worship the King, all- 
glorious above 

97, 203, 235, 251, 259 
On the mountain's top appear 
ing 201 

On the wings of His love I 

was carried above . . . . 36 
One more day's work for Jesus 223 
(One Shepherd and one fold to 

be) 145 

One there is above all others 196 
Onward, Christian Soldiers 

207, 251, 255, 263 
Our God, our help in ages past 

171, 175, 186, 230 

Pange, lingua, gloriosi 125 

Pass me not, O gentle Savior 223 

Peace, perfect peace, in this 

dark world of sin 83 

Praise, my soul, the King of 
heaven 204 

Praise the Lord, ye heavens 

adore Him 78, 235 

Praise to the Holiest in the 
height 205 

(Praise to the Lord! He is 
King over all the creation) 142 

Prayer is the soul's sincere de 
sire 84, 202, 269 

Return, O wanderer, to thy 

home 216 

Ride on, ride on in majesty 75, 200 
Rise, glorious Conqueror, rise 61 



Rise, my soul, and stretch thy 



Rock of Ages, cleft for me 

64, 190, 239, 254, 255 

Safe home, safe home in port 117 
Safe in the arms of Jesus . . . 223 
Safely through another week 

196, 251 

Salve, Caput cruentatum. .125, 140 
Savior, breathe an evening 

blessing 203 

Savior, more than life to me. . 223 
Savior, sprinkle many nations. 223 

Savior, Thy dying love 224 

Savior, who Thy flock art feed 
ing 219 

(See from his head, his hands, 

his feet) 271 

See, the Conqueror rides in 

triumph 38 

Shepherd of tender youth .109, 110 
Shout the glad tidings, exult- 

ingly sing 219 

Sei getreu bis in den Tod . . 90 
Sieh, hier bin ich, Ehrenkoenig 142 
Simply trusting every day .... 91 
(Sleepers, awake, a voice is 

calling) 137 

Softly now the light of day 219 
Soldiers of the cross, arise . 207 
(Something every heart is lov 
ing) .. ... HI 

Sometimes a light surprises 48, 197 
Sound the loud timbrel o'er 

Egypt's dark sea 200 

(Sovereign Ruler, King Vic 
torious) 142 

Stand up and bless the Lord . . 60 
Stand up, stand up for Jesus 

83, 222, 239 

Still, still with Thee, when 
purple morning breaketh 

223, 230 

Summer suns are glowing ... 207 
Sun of my soul, Thou Savior 

dear 200, 232, 235 

Sweet hour of prayer, sweet 

hour of prayer 91 

Swell the anthem, raise the 
song 212 

Take me, O my Father, take 

me 218 

Take my life, and let it be ... 207 
The bird, the messenger o day 122 
The church's one foundation . 84 
The day is past and over. .115, 206 
The God of Abraham praise, . 189 
The Head that once was 

crowned with thorns ... 201 
The heavens are not too high. 162 
The indorsement of supreme 

delight 36 

The Lord is King, lift up thy 

voice 204 

The Lord is my Shepherd, no 

want shall I know 202 

The Lord our God is clothed 

with might . ... 37, 198, 203 
The Lord's my Shepherd, I'll 

not want 154 

The morning light is breaking 

91, 216, 263 
The ransomed spirit to her 

home 214 

The rivers on of Babilon .... 156 
The roseate hues of early 

dawn < > 206 

The royal banners forward go 122 
The Savior bids thee watch 

and pray 216 

The Son of God goes forth to 

war 199 

The spacious firmament on 

high 167 

The spirit in our hearts 219 

The sun is sinking fast 205 

The voice that breathed o'er 

Eden 201 

Thee will I love, my strength, 

my tower 140 

There is a fountain filled with 

blood . . 48, 60, 65, 197, 254 
There is a green hill far away 

206, 271 
There is an hour of peaceful 

rest 214 

There's a wideness in God's 

mercy 83, 206 

There's sunshine in my soul . . 245 
They who seek the throne of 

grace , . . . 213 



Thou art the way, to Thee 

alone 219 

Thou hidden source of calm 

repose 184 

Thou wast, O God, and Thou 

was blest 166 

Thou, whose almighty word . . 203 
(Though love may weep with 

breaking heart) 145 

Through all the changing 

scenes of life 155 

Thy way, not mine, O Lord . . 60 
'Tis midnight, and on Olive's 

brow 59, 214 

Tis the day of resurrection . . 206 
To our Redeemer's glorious 

name 191 

True-hearted, whole-hearted . . 207 

Unser Herrscher, unser Koenig 142 


Veni, Creator spiritus . 124, 134, 152 
Veni, Redemptor gentium . . . 134 
Verzage nicht, du Haeuflein 

klcin 138 

Vexilla regis prodeunt 122, 124 

Von Himmel hoch da komm 

ich her 135 

Veni, Sancte Spiritus 124 


Wachet auf, ruft uns die 
Stimme 137 

(Wait on the Lord) 90 

(Wake, awake, for night is 
flying) 138 

Waked by the Gospel's joyful 
sound 211 

Walk in the light; so shalt 
thou know 203 

(Was there ever kindest Shep 
herd) 206 

Watchman, tell us of the night 204 

We are but strangers here ... 61 

We arc living, we are dwelling 223 
We give Thee but Thine own 207 
We may not climb the heaven 
ly steeps 240 

(We praise aad bless Thee, 

gracious Lord) 145 

We would see Jesus, for the 

shadows lengthen 223 

Welcome, sweet day of rest. 60, 73 
Wer nur den lieben Gott laesst 

walten 138 

When all Thy mercies, O my 

God 167, 262 

When I can read my title clear 38 
When I survey the wondrous 

cross. 38, 59, 79, 171, 176, 237 
When marshaled on the mighty 

plain 203 

When morning gilds the skies 205 
When our hearts are bowed 

with woe 200 

When the roll is called up yon 
der 245 

When the weary, seeking rest 208 
Where cross the crowded ways 

of life 87, 224 

While shepherds watched their 

flocks by night 155 

While with ceaseless course the 

sun 196 

Who can behold the blazing 

light 212 

Wie schoen leuchtet der Mor- 

genstern 137 

Work, for the night is coming 83 

Ye holy angels bright 164 

Ye servants of God, your Mas 
ter proclaims 73, 263 

Yet God's must I remain .... 161 

Zion stands with hills sur 
rounded , 201 

Zion, to thy Savior singing , , 126